Musk: Running Twitter has been “quite a pain” and “a rollercoaster,” Elon Musk said, in a hastily arranged live interview with the BBC.
The multibillion-dollar entrepreneur also said he would sell the company if the right person came along.
Musk, who also runs carmaker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, bought Twitter for $44bn (£35.4bn) in October.
The interview from the company’s San Francisco headquarters covered the mass layoffs, misinformation and his work habits.
But he admitted that he only went through with the acquisition because a judge was about to force him to make the purchase.
And he confirmed that Twitter will change its newly added label for the BBC account from “government funded media” to instead say it is “publicly funded”.
During the conversation — in which Mr. Musk tried to make the interview as much as the other way around — he defended his handling of the company.
Asked if he had any regrets about buying Twitter, the world’s second richest man said “the pain level has been extremely high, this hasn’t been some kind of party.”
Speaking about his time at the helm so far, Musk said, “It hasn’t been boring. It’s been quite a roller coaster.”
It’s been “really a pretty stressful situation over the last few months,” he added, but said he still felt buying the company was the right thing to do.
After acquiring a stake in Twitter in early 2022, Musk made a takeover offer. But Twitter later sued him after he tried to back out of the deal. Things are going “reasonably well,” Musk told the BBC, saying usage of the site has increased and that “the site is working.” The workload means “sometimes I sleep in the office,” she said, adding that she has a seat on a sofa in a library “where nobody goes.”
And he also addressed his sometimes controversial tweets by saying, “Have I shot myself in the foot with tweets multiple times? Yeah.” “I think I shouldn’t be tweeting after 3am,” she added.
When asked about the decision to add a label to the BBC’s main Twitter account describing it as “government funded media”, Musk said: “I know the BBC are generally not keen on being labeled a state media.” Earlier this week, the company reached out to the social media giant about the @BBC account designation to fix the issue “as soon as possible.”
“The BBC is, and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through license fees,” he said. Musk said Twitter is changing the BBC’s label to “publicly funded”. The change was made several hours later, but the new label still linked to a page with information about government and state-affiliated media.
“We’re trying to be precise,” he said.
“We’re trying to ‘I actually have a lot of respect for the BBC,’ she added, saying the interview was ‘a good opportunity to ask some questions’ and ‘to get some feedback on what we should do differently.’
The BBC is the UK’s national broadcaster and operates under a Royal Charter agreed with the government. It is funded by a license fee paid by UK households, amounting to £3.8bn ($4.7bn) in 2022, around 71% of the BBC’s total £5.3bn income. The remainder of the funding comes from its commercial and other activities such as grants, royalties and rental income. The BBC also receives more than £90 million a year from the government to support the BBC World Service, which serves predominantly non-British audiences. The BBC also receives more than £90 million a year from the government to support the BBC World Service, which serves predominantly non-British audiences.
He also said reducing the workforce from just under 8,000 at the time he bought the company to around 1,500 wasn’t easy. He admitted he didn’t fire everyone himself, saying, “You can’t talk face-to-face with so many people.” The departure of many Twitter engineers since Musk bought the company has raised concerns about the platform’s stability. He acknowledged some technical issues, including outages on the site, but said the outages didn’t last very long and the site is currently functioning properly.
Five key quotes
- On Twitter buying: “It wasn’t boring. It was quite a roller coaster… It was actually quite a stressful situation.”
- On staff firing: “I wouldn’t say it was indifferent… If the whole ship sinks, then nobody has a job.”
- On earnings: “We could be profitable, or to be more precise, cash flow positive this quarter if things continue to go well. I think almost all advertisers are back or have said they will.”
- On his controversial tweets: “Have I shot myself in the foot with tweets multiple times? Yeah.”
- On labeling the BBC as a ‘government funded media’: ‘We are adapting