Elon Musk‘s hubris was on full display again today, with the Twitter/X CEO explicitly telling big advertisers such as Disney to “go fuck yourself” while simultaneously stating the company would die without them. That probably wasn’t the smartest business decision if he was concerned about ensuring the social media platform survives.
Musk took the stage at The New York Times‘ DealBook Summit on Wednesday, giving a wide-ranging interview which spanned everything from Tesla’s Cybertruck, to the power struggle at OpenAI, to his recent endorsement of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
It was the latter that had prompted big brands such as Apple, Disney, and IBM to suspend their spending on Twitter/X earlier this month, alongside a report that the platform was showing advertisers’ posts alongside Nazi content.
However, Musk appears to have few regrets about the controversy, stating that he has “no problem being hated” and that his recent visit to Israel was “not an apology tour.” He did say that he was sorry if his post encouraged anti-Semites, and that “in retrospect [he should] not have replied to that particular post.”
Even so, Musk still has not deleted his response two weeks later, and views companies’ reluctance to align themselves with him as “blackmail.”
“I hope they stop [advertising]. Don’t advertise,” said Musk. “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 [Iger, Disney CEO], if you’re in the audience.”
Disney’s CEO Bob Iger had spoken at the summit earlier in the afternoon, though he took a less outright antagonistic approach to the whole situation. Stating that he still has significant respect for Musk and his accomplishments, Iger explained that being associated with Musk or Twitter/X was “not something for [Disney]” after “the position he took in quite a public manner.”
While it’s unclear whether Iger stuck around for Musk’s talk, one person who was in the audience was Twitter/X CEO Linda Yaccarino. The former head of advertising at NBCUniversal, Yaccarino was explicitly brought on to manage Twitter/X’s business operations and advertisers — a task no doubt made immeasurably more difficult due to Musk’s comments.
Despite this, Musk refused to accept responsibility for the impact of his statements on Twitter/X’s ability to do business. Instead, the billionaire insisted that if Twitter/X went under, the blame would be entirely on the advertisers who fled as opposed to his decisions as its owner which drove them away.
“What this advertising boycott is gonna do [is] it’s gonna kill the company,” said Musk. “And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company.”
It was put to Musk that advertisers could argue that he killed Twitter/X himself by making statements which caused them to be uncomfortable with remaining on the platform. Still, Musk seemed more concerned with his followers’ opinions than with taking accountability or ensuring Twitter/X is able to continue operating.
“Let’s see how Earth responds to that,” Musk spitefully said. “We’ll both make our cases, and we’ll see what the outcome is.”
At this rate, regardless of the amount of finger-pointing involved, the outcome is likely to include the slow and painful death of Twitter/X.
Elon Musk’s hubris was evident during his appearance at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit, where he made controversial statements to big advertisers such as Disney. Despite acknowledging that the company would not survive without them, Musk told them to “go fuck yourself.” This was in response to the suspension of spending on Twitter/X by major brands like Apple, Disney, and IBM, following reports that the platform displayed advertisers’ posts alongside Nazi content. Musk expressed little remorse for the controversy, stating that he has “no problem being hated.” He also accused companies of blackmail for not aligning themselves with him. Despite the negative impact of his statements on Twitter/X’s ability to do business, Musk refused to take responsibility, blaming the advertisers for any potential downfall. It is likely that the platform will suffer a slow and painful death as a result.