‘Technoking’ of Tesla discusses Twitter, politics and Tesla job cuts

Elon Musk, in an interview with the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg at the Qatar Economic Forum, presented himself as “Technoking of Tesla” rather than CEO, illustrating his disdain for titles. Later, when discussing what position he would take at Twitter if the takeover went through, Musk said his job was to drive the product – and it didn’t matter what his position was.

Courtesy of Bloomberg

Musk used the opportunity to discuss much of the controversy he is facing at the moment: from the three things holding back his takeover of Twitter, his statement about salaried Tesla employees being laid off, and his take on whether a recession is imminent. He also commented on whether his plans for freedom of speech on Twitter will be affected by his affiliation with China, which notoriously doesn’t allow for criticism against the Chinese Communist Party – and, of course, his support for Dogecoin which he gave at the request of Tesla and SpaceX employees. More in this article which first appeared on The Wall Street Journal. – Ross Sinclair 

Elon Musk Says Three Issues Need Resolving Before Twitter Deal Can Be Finalized

Tesla CEO says shareholder approval, debt financing and answers to spam and fake accounts are needed to complete acquisition

By Alyssa Lukpat

Elon Musk said on Tuesday that his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter Inc. was stalled by three unresolved matters: earning shareholder approval, obtaining debt financing and getting answers to his questions about spam and fake accounts on the platform.

Since Mr. Musk offered to buy the social-media service in April, the bid has taken several unusual twists as he has publicly criticized the company, belittled its top executives and in multiple instances threatened to walk away from the deal. 

In an interview on Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Qatar Economic Forum, the billionaire said that there are “still a few unresolved matters” for the deal to be completed. 

First, he said he was “still awaiting resolution” following his request in recent weeks that Twitter provide data so he could evaluate how many fake bot accounts were on the platform.

“That is a very significant matter,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment on Tuesday morning. The company earlier this month said Twitter would “continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement.”

Mr. Musk said he was also working out the details of debt financing and winning the approval of the shareholders, which he needs to secure the takeover.

“Those are the three things that need to be resolved before the transaction can complete,” Mr. Musk said.

Twitter’s board of directors recommended that the company’s shareholders vote to approve the deal, saying that it was “in the best interests of Twitter,” according to a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Twitter shares rose more than 2% to $38.70 in Tuesday midday trading, below the $54.20-a-share price that Mr. Musk agreed to pay for it.

Mr. Musk reiterated that he wants Twitter to be “the digital town square,” adding that he hopes half of the world would join the platform.

Beyond the Twitter deal, Mr. Musk, Tesla Inc.’s chief executive, addressed his plans to cut 10% of the electric-vehicle company’s salaried workforce. He said at the forum on Tuesday that the cuts would happen over roughly the next three months.

It appeared that the reductions began last week, as roughly a dozen people posted on LinkedIn in recent days that they had been laid off.

In a memo to staffers earlier this month, Mr. Musk said some salaried, but not hourly, employees would be let go because the company was overstaffed. Tesla’s head count grew from 69,000 workers at the end of 2020 to 100,000 at the end of 2021, according to a regulatory filing.

“We grew very fast on the salaried side,” he said at the forum.

Since about 39% of Tesla workers in 2021 were on the production side, according to the filing, that suggests that about 6,000 salaried workers might be affected by the cuts, which he called “not super material.”

Despite the reduction, he said Tuesday that he expected the company would have a higher head count one year from now for both salaried and hourly employees.

It wasn’t clear how or when he expected to hire more salaried staff. Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Musk said that the cuts overall would reduce the company’s head count by about 3% to 3.5%.

Two employees who said they were fired from a Tesla factory in Nevada sued the company on Sunday in a Texas federal court. They alleged that Tesla violated a labor law known as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, which they said would have required the company to give them a 60-day notice period before they were terminated.

When an interviewer asked Mr. Musk about the lawsuit, the chief executive called it “trivial,” saying, “Let’s not read too much into a pre-emptive lawsuit.”

While Mr. Musk blamed the recent job cuts at Tesla on the company’s fast growth, he had also suggested on Twitter last month that he thought the economy was headed toward a recession that could last from 12 to 18 months.

He said at the forum on Tuesday that he thought “a recession is inevitable at some point,” and was more likely than not to occur in the near-term but he didn’t elaborate beyond that.

Economists recently surveyed by The Wall Street Journal said there was a 44% probability of a recession in the next 12 months. Such a high probability has previously occurred on the brink of or during an actual recession in the Journal’s surveys dating back to 2005.

In the political sphere, Mr. Musk clarified his post on Twitter last week that he was leaning toward voting for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, in the 2024 presidential election. When asked if he would support another run by Donald Trump, he said, “I think I’m undecided at this point.”

Write to Alyssa Lukpat at [email protected]

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