Elon Musk says he is sorry he amplified an antisemitic post on X. But at a New York Times event, here’s what he said about advertisers like Disney, who have since left the platform (the “Bob” in this quote is Disney Chairman Bob Iger):
If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself. Go. Fuck. Yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey, Bob, if you’re in the audience . . . What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it. And what I see all over the place is people who care about looking good while doing evil. Fuck them.
How can the world’s richest businessman misunderstand how business works?
Forgive the obvious nature of what I am about to write — you would think the world’s richest businessman would understand it.
A business succeeds to the extent that it give customers what they want at a price they’re willing to pay. Not a huge revelation, there.
Who are the customers of X?
Not the people reading the tweets. Very few of them are paying.
Advertisers are the customers.
In any primarily ad-supported media business, including social media, the business must attract readers’ attention, and then sell that attention to advertisers. If there are enough readers and the ads are able to be effective, the media business succeeds. If not, it fails.
Unlike SpaceX, this is not rocket science.
X has now created an environment that advertisers find hostile. X owner Musk is a big contributor to that hostility. The ads were never that effective in the first place. If your customers no longer like your product or find it useful, they leave. Obviously.
Browbeating customers is a bad strategy, no matter what business you are in. It may make Musk feel better, but it isn’t going to bring his advertiser-customers back.
At Tesla, Musk skillfully gave customers what they wanted. Why is it so hard for him to understand that telling customers to fuck off isn’t going to help at X?