Elon Musk’s poll this weekend asking followers if he should step down as Twitter CEO felt like a classic Musk joke — an off-the-cuff remark with high stakes that actually isn’t all that funny. At first, he ignored the results of the vote, in which 57 percent of over 17 million respondents told him to resign. Then, following reports he might actually be looking to step down from the company he just dropped $44 billion of his own money to buy, Musk confirmed it in a tweet:
For months now, Musk has been saying that he doesn’t want to run Twitter forever. “There’s an initial burst of activity needed post acquisition to reorganize the company,” Musk said in November during a trial over his massive pay package at Tesla. “But then I would reduce my time [commitment] to Twitter; I’d find someone else to run Twitter over time.” Whether or not he’s actually been reorganizing his new company, Musk is reportedly on the prowl for a replacement: According to CNBC, he is actively searching for a new CEO.
The reasons for the search may have less to do with Twitter than with his other notable company, Tesla. Tesla’s value has plummeted close to 60 percent since Musk announced his plan to buy Twitter in April, and shareholders are beyond frustrated that Musk has been attracting such negative attention in a market already brutal for car makers. Chinese billionaire Leo KoGuon, who is believed to be the third-largest individual shareholder in Tesla, tweeted that Tesla needs a new CEO — “an executioner, Tim Cook–like is needed, not Elon.” KoGuon does not have the shares to supplant Musk, but the call from inside the house should be distressing. And even though Musk has never paid much attention to criticism from lawmakers like Elizabeth Warren, he probably should be concerned that the senator wrote to Tesla’s board chair on Monday saying that Tesla shareholders may be at risk due to “possible violations of securities or other laws, including whether Mr. Musk is funneling Tesla resources into Twitter.”
But if Musk is ready to give up the CEO seat he came into less than two months ago, who’s up for the challenge of replacing him? Let’s take a look at some of the contenders, both serious and, let’s say, less traditional.
The senior director of product at Twitter a decade ago, Krishnan is a software engineer and investor who rose to prominence during the early months of the pandemic, when he hosted a popular tech show on the Clubhouse app. In 2021, he was appointed as a general partner at the influential tech and crypto investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and this year he was tapped by Musk to be part of his “war room” shaping Twitter into whatever it is now. Of the small group of people Musk is relying on, Krishnan is the only one with actual experience running the platform; given that résumé and Musk’s comments that he wants a “technologist” in the role, Krishnan could be on the inside track.
After losing the Arizona Senate election in November, Blake Masters apparently wants to pivot back to his original career path: being a professional sycophant for tech overlords. In a Twitter thread on Tuesday, Masters sucked up to Musk, saying his job was “10x more brutal than running for federal office lol” and suggesting a few options if he were given the job — an “anything goes” free-speech policy and a plan to monetize content.
One of the other guys who help run Twitter
Along with Sriram Krishnan, Musk tapped investor Jason Calacanis and former PayPal executive David Sacks to be part of his war room at Twitter. Before Musk purchased the platform, Calacanis was advising him on how to cut costs (by making employees return to the office at least twice a week) and how to attract users by handing out more verified badges. Sacks, a conservative who made millions investing in companies like Airbnb and Uber, has long helped influence Musk’s decision-making. Earlier this year, he wrote an article suggesting that people in regions of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russia should decide by referendum which nation they should be part of. Less than a month later, Musk was proposing the idea himself.
Musk’s fixer — or his new favorite lawyer?
A Mormon and former Morgan Stanley wealth manager, Musk’s fixer Jared Birchall helped lock in the deal that allowed his boss to buy Twitter with billions in loans from Morgan Stanley. The head of his family office, Birchall is also the CEO of Neuralink, Musk’s company that has the goal of implanting small chips in people’s brains — and the reported reality of killing a lot of monkeys in pursuit of that goal.
If Birchall is too close to Musk, he could also consider Alex Spiro, his attorney who helped protect him regarding a defamation suit regarding that whole thing with the Thai divers. Aside from protecting him from paying out for calling a random caver a “pedo guy,” Spiro also led Musk’s effort to drop out of the attempt to buy Twitter.
It’s a long shot, sure. But over the years, the rapper and actor has proven to be a sound businessman, putting millions into medical marijuana and early funding rounds for Reddit. He could be pricy — Snoop recently admitted he charges $250,000 for a feature on a song — but he is at least motivated:
And if Snoop isn’t up to snuff, Musk could always go with the frontman of Limp Bizkit:
The former White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law does not have any experience in tech aside from purchasing and selling a majority stake in a minor real-estate-tech firm. But as a poster child for failing upward, Twitter’s top job could be a great option for Kushner, especially given that he doesn’t have a job right now. Though Musk and Kushner have rival backers in the Saudi royal family, the two have been networking recently: