Elon Musk’s Twitter fiasco is The Twilight of the Tech Bro

The beloved pseudonymous weird Twitter philosopher dril once wrote, “I’m not owned! I’m not possessed!!” I continue to insist as I slowly shrink and transform into a corn cob.” [sic]

This 2011 tweet spawned the phrase “corn cobbing,” which on the internet means gaining victory in the face of apparent, humiliating defeat.

Now it seems almost narratively unwieldy that the social network that enabled Dril to become a farcical folk hero among the online extreme sets, led by Elon Musk, the world’s (for now) richest man – a man, who it once was – shriveled up being hailed as a genius but certainly not acting like one these days.

Musk has lost more than half his workforce to ill-conceived layoffs and inhumane demands. advertisers flee. Selling verified ticks to any fool with $8 and a willingness to give their credit card information to a site that’s lost a significant portion of its security team has caused chaos and occasional hilarity. (In a twist that has to be heartbreaking for the necessarily funny Musk, he’s not the one responsible for the laughs that anonymous hero pretending to be Eli Lilly.)

A November 21st New York Times Piece claims this is just Elon Doing Elon running Twitter the same way he ran Tesla and SpaceX in the early days. While the reporters express a healthy skepticism that this approach will work at a company as different as Twitter, they also leave it entirely possible that this is all part of a playbook that has worked before and could work again.

In the meantime, while Musk isn’t saying much to the media, he’s certainly tweeting through, breaking shit and claiming i wanted to do that– flipped his Ls and taped them together to tell us they were Ws the entire time. (Elon, these are definitely Ls. We can see the tape.)

Muhammed Selim Korkutata / Anadolu Agency

Let me offer a simpler explanation: perhaps Elon Musk is not the young genius he was made out to be and never was. And maybe his Silicon Valley colleagues aren’t either.

In the last month, tens of thousands of tech workers have lost their jobs — from Meta to Twitter to Amazon and beyond — and in the coming weeks, industry executives have predicted there will be more.

Of course, whatever the industry, expansion and contraction are inevitable. But there’s something more happening with what we’re seeing in technology right now. It feels bigger than the gentle waving of the invisible hand. It seems like a bunch of guys who were billed as geniuses then made a bunch of bad decisions and finally reality is catching up.

As a result, the people who worked for them and believed in them are hurt.

“The tech industry is a china shop full of cops…in the sense that many of its leaders have no fucking clue what they’re doing.”

Just a month ago, the dominant narrative about Sam Bankman-Fried, the Bahamas-based crypto billionaire boy, was bullish. At 30, he was the face and brains behind crypto exchange FTX. He’s had celebrity endorsements, Super Bowl commercials, and the cover of forbes Magazine. But between November 8 and November 11 of this year, SBF’s net worth went from an estimated $10.6 billion to $0 when it was revealed the company had done a number of things that companies associated with handle other people’s money shouldn’t be doing, and the value of the underlying cryptocurrency had completely collapsed. Bankman-Fried had mistreated customer funds in a manner similar to American banks leading up to the 1929 stock market crash. Not very brilliant behavior!

Amazon will also cut 10,000 jobs after its “worldwide digital” unit lost $3 billion in the first quarter of this year. According to Business Insider, that’s because the virtual assistant Alexa, which 10 years ago everyone thought was the future of computing, actually wasn’t the future of computing. Alexa and its connected products have been “money losers” for years, and have faced controversies that have eroded consumer trust in them, from secretly recording conversations when they should be shut down to failing to get their users to constantly to shop Oops. Maybe Jeff Bezos should have stayed in space.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s supposedly brilliant mind has been hitting some expensive stinkers lately. The recently rebranded Meta (nobody calls it Meta unless they’re reporters writing about it or traders shorting their shares) has poured godlike sums into the development of what it calls the Metaverse, an immersive world of virtual reality which requires a $400 headset to attend has provided a consistently flawed and bizarre legless user experience.

(Disclosure: I was paid to create content on a meta platform on a contract basis between June 2021 and October 2022. I was not an employee of the company, nor was I privy to any internal discussions or deals.)


CEO of FTX Sam Bankman Fried.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

But right around the time Elon was eloning Twitter and someone posing as Sam Bankman-Fried was creating a credible fake listing for the fool’s $40 million penthouse in the Bahamas, Zuck announced that 11,000 of his employees would shortly faced losing their jobs. That’s 13 percent of its workforce unemployed, heading for the holiday season and maybe a recession.

It reads a bit like an own goal.

If he’d put fewer resources into setting up camp in the Uncanny Valley, maybe Facebook would be less of a last stand for the uncle that no one wants to talk to on Thanksgiving and more of a town square willing to step in and fill the role of Twitter took over did before it started circling the toilet bowl. Retrospect is 20-20 unless you’re strapped into a virtual reality headset and can’t see anything that’s actually going on around you.

How many of these tech failures do we have to go through before we stop lending such glowing credulity to the myth of the genius CEO? How many Elizabeth Holmes? How many WeWorks? How many prestige streaming miniseries based on the collapse of a company started by a charismatic charlatan do we need to see nominated for a perfunctory number of Supporting Actor Emmys before we learn our lesson?

Silicon Valley’s weird daddy-worship of its leaders has always been a nuisance to those of us whose brains aren’t pickled in its brine. But now we’re seeing the tech industry — with its pathological reluctance to acknowledge the limitations of its leaders — explode in spectacular fashion, and in a way that can harm even those who wouldn’t know Elon if he accidentally overrun them would his “self-driving” Tesla.

The tech industry is a china shop full of cops — both in the sense that without delusional optimism about the upside of any venture, the whole place would collapse in on itself, and in the sense that many of its leaders have no fucking clue what they’re doing do.

We observe what happens when a culture is built on believing in its leaders’ auto-mythology.

Silicon Valley is not a superhero incubator. Its leaders are not gods. Many of them aren’t even geniuses. The longer we remember it, the better we can prevent history from repeating itself. And again. And again.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/elon-musks-twitter-fiasco-is-the-twilight-of-the-tech-bro?source=articles&via=rss Elon Musk’s Twitter fiasco is The Twilight of the Tech Bro


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