Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday night that he will step down as CEO of Twitter once he finds a replacement. It was not immediately clear if Musk was serious, and no formal announcement beyond the tweet had been made.
“I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” Musk wrote. “After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.”
The purported announcement came after Musk hosted a poll on the social media platform in which users voted for him to leave the position.
The poll, posted on Sunday night, asked simply, “Should [Musk] step down as head of Twitter? [Musk] will abide by the results of this poll.” The question garnered over 17.5 million responses, with 57.5% of participants voting yes.
While votes were still being submitted, Musk on Sunday continued to tweet about a possible successor, saying that should someone new assume the role of CEO, they “must like pain a lot,” and claimed that Twitter, “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy.”
“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted.
Musk has taken a number of unscientific polls on substantial issues facing the social media platform, including whether to reinstate journalists that he had suspended from Twitter, which was broadly criticized in and out of media circles.
Following the poll asking if he should step down as CEO, Musk appeared to be considering only allowing those who subscribe to Twitter Blue, a paid subscription service, to participate in polls concerning Twitter policy going forward.
The polls have only added to a growing sense of tumult on Twitter since Musk bought the company for $44 billion, potentially leaving the future direction of the company in the hands of its users.
Among those users are people recently reinstated on the platform under Musk, people who had been banned for racist and toxic posts, or who had spread misinformation.
Since buying Twitter, Musk has presided over a dizzying series of changes that have unnerved advertisers and turned off users. He’s laid off half of the workforce, axed contract content moderators and disbanded a council of trust and safety advisors. He has dropped enforcement of COVID-19 misinformation rules, and called for criminal charges against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert.
Twitter also announced that users will no longer be able to link to Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon and other platforms targeted for “prohibition.”
Early Monday, the tweets from Twitter’s ‘Support’ account and the Twitter blog announcing the “prohibitions” disappeared without explanation. Twitter no longer has a press office so it was not possible to ask why.
That decision had generated immediate blowback, including criticism from past defenders of Twitter’s new owner. Musk then promised that he would not make any more major policy changes to Twitter without an online survey of users.
The action to block competitors was Musk’s latest attempt to crack down on certain speech after he shut down a Twitter account last week that was tracking the flights of his private jet.
The banned platforms included mainstream websites such as Facebook and Instagram, and rivals Mastodon, Tribel, Nostr, Post and former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social.
A growing number of Twitter users have left under Musk, or created alternative accounts on rival platforms and included those addresses in their Twitter profiles.
Musk has advocated for free speech on Twitter, but shut down the jet-tracking account, calling it a security risk. He used that to justify the decision last week to suspend the accounts of numerous journalists who cover Twitter and Musk, among them reporters working for The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America and other publications. Many of those accounts were restored following an online poll by Musk.
The Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz was suspended over the weekend after requesting an interview with Musk in a tweet tagged to the Twitter owner.
Sally Buzbee, The Washington Post’s executive editor, called it an “arbitrary suspension of another Post journalist” that further undermined Musk’s promise to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.
“Again, the suspension occurred with no warning, process or explanation — this time as our reporter merely sought comment from Musk for a story,” Buzbee said. By midday Sunday, Lorenz’s account was restored, as was the tweet she thought had triggered her suspension.
Musk was questioned in court on Nov. 16 about how he splits his time among Tesla and his other companies, including SpaceX and Twitter. He had to testify in Delaware’s Court of Chancery over a shareholder’s challenge to Musk’s potentially $55 billion compensation plan as CEO of the electric car company.
Musk said he never wanted to be a CEO of any company, preferring to see himself as an engineer.