Twitter owner Elon Musk confirmed Tuesday night that he will step down as the company’s CEO, but only after he identifies a successor, directly addressing for the first time a Twitter poll he created this week in which millions of users voted for his departure.
In a chirpingMusk said he would resign “as soon as I find someone stupid enough to take the job!”
He added that after he steps down as CEO, Musk would “run the software and server teams” at Twitter, indicating that he may continue to exert significant influence over the company’s decision-making.
The announcement comes after more than a day of silence about the vote following the outcome. On Monday, after more than 17 million users had voted — 57.5% of whom said Musk should step down — the billionaire leader addressed the results only indirectly. He suggested that future Twitter polls may be limited to paid users of Twitter Blue, the company’s subscription service.
Musk’s poll asking users whether he should step down as CEO came after a massive backlash to Twitter’s abrupt suspension of several journalists covering him, as well as Twitter’s decision to ban, and then unban, links to other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon, a fast-growing Twitter rival that has grown eightfold in size since October.
Musk’s short tenure as CEO has resulted in sweeping, sometimes erratic shifts at one of the world’s most influential social media companies.
Under his leadership, Twitter has laid off the majority of its employees, alienated major advertisers, welcomed former President Donald Trump back to the platform after his suspension in the wake of the Capitol riots on January 6 and released internal communications to reporters about Twitter’s past operations. Musk took ownership of the company.
Musk forced remaining employees to take a pledge to be “extremely hardcore” in their work, and stopped enforcing Twitter’s policy against misinformation about Covid-19.
Within days, Twitter launched, and was then forced to de-launch, a paid verification feature that was immediately manipulated by satirical accounts impersonating verified major brands, athletes and other public figures on the platform.
Musk’s penchant for making major product changes based on little more than informal Twitter polls has highlighted his ad hoc and improvisational management style. But that approach has attracted increasing criticism from many Twitter users. Last week, Twitter suspended several journalists who had reported on Musk’s permanent ban on an account that tracked his jet.
Mounting criticism of Musk culminated in Sunday’s poll that served as an effective, if unscientific, referendum on Musk’s handling of the company since he closed on buying Twitter in late October.