Elon Musk poll ends in Twitter users wanting him out as CEO

Nearly 58% voted 'yes', but it is unclear if he will make good on his pledge to abide by the results of the vote

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Twitter users voted in favour of Elon Musk stepping down as the company's chief executive, but it remains unclear if the mercurial leader will follow through on his pledge to abide by the results of the poll.

Almost 58 per cent, or about 9.86 million, from more than 17.5 million users voted “yes” in the poll, which ended at 3.20pm UAE time. The margin remained steady from the early hours of the initial tweet.

Shares of Tesla, which is also headed by Mr Musk, were up slightly as investors in the electric car maker breathed an apparent sigh of relief that he might be less distracted by Twitter.

Tesla stocks have collapsed in value this year amid Mr Musk's takeover of the social media company that he bought for $44 billion in October.

Mr Musk posted the poll late on Sunday, in which he asked, “Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.” He has yet to respond to the results as of posting time.

Lex Fridman, a researcher at MIT, said he would not take a salary as Twitter chief executive and instead focus the engineering process.

Mr Musk responded: "You must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job?"

In a separate tweet, Mr Musk said: "No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor."

Others who have offered to take on the top job include David Sacks, a former executive at Paypal, and Sriram Krishnan, a former Twitter executive.

If Mr Musk makes good on his word, he would step down as chief executive barely two months into the role.

The move is unconventional but not unusual for Mr Musk, who has used Twitter to ask his 122 million followers and other users for their opinions. This includes matters on his business interests — even serious ones such as when he asked if he should sell more stock in his electric vehicle company Tesla.

Mr Musk's poll, however, is seen as an ominous sign for his time at the helm of Twitter, and a change could be imminent that could favour both Twitter and Tesla, said Dan Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities.

“While clearly unconventional, the Musk CEO poll is a sign that the noise is growing louder and louder, given the spider web of Twitter and Tesla weakness,” he said. “Poll results will dictate if Musk stays officially CEO of Twitter … a big moment for this Twitter situation.

“If Musk leaves as Twitter CEO and appoints someone else [social media background ideal], this would be a major positive for Tesla shares as the Twitter overhang would be significantly reduced clearly in our opinion.”

Mr Musk's tenure at Twitter has been marred by controversial decisions, including implementing new rules and suspending accounts that he deemed too critical — which goes against claims from the self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist".

The company has also reversed several decisions. Last week, Mr Musk suspended the accounts of journalists who were tracking his flights, only to quickly reinstate them — after asking users in yet another poll.

And Twitter appeared to have reversed a policy change on Sunday that prohibited users from linking to the company's rival platforms. The tweet announcing the decision and the page announcing the change no longer exist.

Mr Musk apologised for the policy change on Sunday night.

“Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again,” he tweeted before launching the poll on his leadership position.

He also fired Twitter's senior executives and almost half of its employees and introduced a new pay scheme, a move that was compounded when advertisers left, citing disillusionment at the company's direction.

Mr Musk said the moves were part of plans to fix Twitter's leadership and save its bottom line, claiming that the company was losing millions of dollars every day.

Elon Musk - in pictures

Updated: December 20, 2022, 8:48 AM
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