Elmo’s Forced Marriage

I feel like a lot of the commentary about Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter — which includes a great deal of Kremlinology about what Elmo says on Twitter — has forgotten how we got here.

Elmo entered what is effectively a forced marriage.

Consider this dramatic reenactment:

Twitter: Hey, Elon, can you come help build value in our platform? Jack said it’d be a good idea.

Elmo: It’s a deal!

Twitter: Oh wait, we have to do due diligence on you first.

Elmo: Fuck that. I’m buying you all out. Twitter sucks!!!

Twitter: Okaaayyyy… If you want to buy us without yourself doing due diligence, you got it.

Elmo: But wait! Bots! Twitter sucks!!!

Twitter: You said no due diligence.

Elmo: Deal is off! Bots! Twitter sucks!!

Twitter: See you in court.

Twitter: Huh. These emails you sent are really interesting. We really look forward to the deposition and trial.

Elmo: Uh … uh … uh, alright then, the deal is back on.

At this point, a week into Elmo’s ownership, it’s unclear whether he went through with the purchase because he really wanted to buy the joint, or because in the face of exposure in the spring (in the form of due diligence), and last month (in the form of a deposition and trial), he kept doubling down, effectively dodging scrutiny of his own suitability to run Twitter by throwing money at it, $44 billion instead of the billion he’d have to pay to back out of the deal. And for much of that time, Elmo responded to Twitter’s scrutiny by attacking the company.

Thus far, it seems clear that Elmo is not suitable to run Twitter.

If he were merely the richest man in the world and not instead a billionaire whose wealth is heavily invested in an existing company that is subject to the whim of the market, a company the value of which has been damaged by Elmo’s Twitter tantrum — if he were spending his own money on the purchase — it might have ended there. But to pull off the purchase, he added a bunch of new debt to a company already reeling under its existing debt load, making the dire financial situation of Twitter even worse, in the middle of a tech downturn.

To make matters still worse, the entire world knows that the richest man in the world just made one of the worst deals in history, buying a company worth maybe $20 billion — a company whose own worth he spent months diminishing — for $44 billion.

It’s got to rankle a thin-skinned egotist like Elmo, knowing that all the pinheads he attacked at the beginning of this process just watched him get utterly fleeced in a business deal.

The richest man in the world just got his ass handed to him, and in his first act after consummating this forced marriage, he fired the people who handed him his ass in such a way that Elmo will either have to pay severance or settle lawsuits for the way he fired them.

And that’s reason why I think people are investing far too much faith in what Elmo is saying on Twitter. Is he saying what he’s saying because he’s testing out an affirmative business plan? Or is he saying what he’s saying because he loathes many of the most prominent people on Twitter, who all told him he was wrong and just watched him make an epically bad business deal, but he nevertheless needs to con enough advertisers and funders and Twitter members in the interim to stave off further personal losses on the company?

One of his first instincts was to prove those pinheads wrong about disinformation by embracing conspiracy theories about the attempted kidnapping of Nancy Pelosi.

After deleting that with no acknowledgment of how stupid the tweet was, Elmo laughed it off by calling the NYT fake news, something that may have salved his ego but surely made advertisers even more wary of continuing to spend money with him.

Since then, Elmo has turned to making it look like There Is a Plan to charge for Twitter.

Elmo would later admit that verification would be replaced with notice of someone’s stature, akin to what is currently used by politicians. This exchange — getting put in his place by the creator of great horrors — really amounted to Elmo announcing the roll-out of the Twitter Blue program that he and Jack Dorsey talked about last spring.

Even in spite of getting rebuked by Stephen King, Elmo kept pitching the pay service — to the people he needs to keep on Twitter to retain its value — as a solution to problems other than that Twitter is over-leveraged.

In the process of his serial attempts to claim that forcing users to pay for what is free now, Elmo repeatedly revealed he either doesn’t understand or doesn’t much care about what brings value to Twitter, the free content from people like Stephen King. Similarly, he repeatedly claimed that his efforts to monetize Twitter were instead efforts to address things that the pinheads value, disinformation, and things he used to attack Twitter when trying to back out of the deal, the bots.

He has not admitted that the cost of Twitter Blue would now have to pay for his epically shitty business deal, on top of what it would have paid for in April, before he started his six month tantrum. How much of an $8 monthly fee amounts to bailing Elmo out of a deal that everyone knows was epically stupid?

Elmo’s top advisors aren’t any better. Here, David Sacks took a break from apologizing for Putin to ask why Jeff Bezos and other billionaires don’t give away the content that their own employees create for free, apparently not understanding that Twitter’s employees don’t create the content on offer.

All the while, both these inapt advisors and Elmo himself keep boasting as if they’re not the ones who just got their asses handed to them in a business deal.

I don’t know how this is going to go — other than downhill. Once I paint my walls I’ll start building up my presence at @[email protected]. I’ve got an account at CounterSocial but for now I’m focusing on Mastodon. I hope and expect alternatives to both will be rushed out to fill the role Twitter once did.

Until then, though, I think Elmo’s serial meltdown on Twitter is better explained by his discomfort in a new role, in which he needs to convince ordinary people and security-conscious celebrities to stay, rather than persuading venture capitalists and captive tech journalists of the brilliance of his grandiose ideas, all while trying to snooker everyone into believing that the pay system will address the problems with Twitter rather than the problems built into Elmo’s purchase of Twitter.

Elmo loathes precisely the people he needs most right now, and he loathes them, in part, because they just saw him make an epically shitty business deal, a deal so epically shitty, in part, because Elmo wanted to prevent anyone from looking at him too closely. His response to that is to invite their complaints, so long as they pay $8 to make them.

It’s a con, but for some reason Elmo thinks the people who just saw him get fleeced will fall for it.

Update: One thing I didn’t provide enough focus on in this is that — as Drew in Bronx notes — Elmo really didn’t have a choice just to pay $1 billion to get out of the deal because his other DE-based property (eg, in Tesla) could have been used to fulfill his obligations. Once he was convinced he would lose at trial, he was stuck.

I agree this is a forced marriage. But to be clear, there was absolutely no way that Musk was going to get out of it once he signed the contract. Delaware Chancery Court is its own special thing, and Musk got outlawyered at the outset because of his own impulsiveness. The (chief) Chancellor in Delaware is brilliant & tough and has no pity for white shoe law firms having to work long hours on short schedules. Also, since Tesla is a Delaware corporation, once a judgement was entered, if it wasn’t honored she would simply seize Musk’s shares in Tesla to satisfy it-no recourse for Elmo.

Update: This account of how dysfunctional Twitter has been since Elmo took over is worth reading in full, especially the description of “psychological warfare” in lieu of management.

One Blind post from a Twitter worker, viewed by The Post on Wednesday, said simply, “This level of silent treatment is totally unprofessional.” Another Twitter employee replied, “It’s not silent treatment it is psychological warfare.”

246 replies
  1. Leu2500 says:

    “I don’t know how this is going to go – other than downhill”

    Based on what I understand of Twitter’s new debt load & historic revenues, downhill seems to be exactly how it goes. A la Toys R Us & other leveraged buyouts. The math I’ve seen on the blue checkmark, even at $20, is a drop in Twitter’s ocean of debt.

    So the questions are how long b4 Twitter goes out of business & can it be broken up & the parts sold off for investors to recoup some of their losses.

    • Badger Robert says:

      Reminds me of the US Transcontinental Railroad. The Union Pacific insiders knew the route could not generate enough revenue to pay its maintenance costs. They were fleecing the subsidies while they were building the railroad. I think most important people at that time thought the Union Pacific would need a rescuer, and it turned out to be Jay Gould.
      Elmo may think he is as ruthless as Gould, but Elmo has only a fraction of the intelligence.
      And what happened? Durant was buried in law suits. The Central Pacific actually was building a monopoly in California. The big five became the Bezos and Gates of their times.

      • notjonathon says:

        In the early 60’s, we Chappies (Stanford humor magazine staff) had a little drinking song that included the line, “Every farmer adds a brick to Leland Stanford’s school.”

        • ahansen says:

          Sorry, my eyes are dim, I cannot see. . .
          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  2. Rugger_9 says:

    Some of the MAGAs, OKs, PBs, et al will go for this because it’s a fascist Disneyland and they want to trade their conspiracy theories like Pokemon cards. So, when they get fleeced, we’ll laugh where reality still operates.

  3. John Paul Jones says:

    I liked him better when he did a guest spot on “Big Bang Theory,” washing dishes in a soup kitchen. More useful job, and pitched at the proper skill level. Though of course, at the time I didn’t realize what a con that appearance was. The truly weird thing about all this is that I am seeing more and more Teslas on the road. The buggers are everywhere!

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Indeed, the Teslas are everywhere and their drivers are so annoying they almost (almost!) make me yearn for the good old days of Beemer and Audit twits. Even that bit of success has a land mine or two, given how the autopilot feature (that Elon says is fully operational) has already caused dozens of deaths of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Plus the Tesla already has a bad rep for getting service done.

      None of that is good news for building a brand.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          At this point, me too…

          I used to think Musk was an interesting character…

          That started to fade when he sold f’in flame throwers to the public…

          Since then, my opinion’s been like a big snow ball heading downhill… the bigger it gets, the faster it rolls…

      • Fancy Chicken says:

        OMG, OMG, OMG, yes, yes, yes it is so true!

        I don’t like to stereotype drivers, however I frequently drive 81 and 70 to Baltimore and in the last two years the roads have become thick with Teslas and their crazy assed, rude as get out drivers who routinely are doing WAY over 90, tailgating you in the fast lane if you are not and make rude and dangerous lane changes with no blinker.

        At first I thought it was just less than random coincidence, but after two years of this kind of driving from every Tesla coup (moms in the suv don’t seem to be quite so bad) that blew past my rather speedy but contentious driving I’ve come to believe that Teslas come equipped with a Bro Drive feature that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten anyone killed before my very eyes.

        What is with the profile of these owners/drivers that they drive so freakin’ rudely and recklessly?

        Curious chickens want to know!

        • Hugh says:

          You said it yourself – the Elon Bros – Musk Rats who believe driving a Tesla makes them sociopathic billionaire adjacent/entitled. My problem with them on the streets is so much of their dangerous behavior depends entirely on other drivers not making any sudden or unexpected moves. Like good libertarians they seem incapable of understanding the danger they pose to others.

          [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Hugh.” Please select a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          “Musk Rats who believe driving a Tesla makes them sociopathic billionaire adjacent/entitled.” So that applies to everybody who drives a Tesla? What the fuck is wrong with you?

        • Fancy Chicken says:

          Hey there now Mr. Maz- I’m the one who said I was run down and swerved around by what appears to be nearly all Tesla Coupe drivers. That’s my stereotyping if you read, not Hugh’s.

          It may not be scientifically observed, but I do believe Tesla drivers stand out for their bad behaviors.

        • zeke di leo says:

          Two years ago everyone driving a Tesla was an elitist libtard, and now they’re all fascist tech-bros. What a time to be alive.

      • rosalind says:

        just visited with a friend. someone threw a large rock through her Tesla windshield, denting the frame. she was bemoaning the fact Tesla Service Dept. couldn’t give her ANY estimate – day, month, year – as to when her car would be repaired. i, uh, could not muster up much sympathy.

        • Ed Walker says:

          Wait, somebody threw a rock through the windshield and it dented the frame? Is there more to this story? How does that even happen?

        • rosalind says:

          it was more of a huge chunk of concrete. both of their cars were vandalized overnight in the parking lot.

      • Mart7890 says:

        Just do not see how Tesla products will compete with global auto manufacturers products. Expect a Tesla downward spiral along with Twitters.

  4. Yet Another Cynic Philosopher says:

    We can all laugh at how dumb Elon is.

    But even if it’s just a giant catch and kill operation, destroying Twitter pays huge dividends for the fascists.

        • pinsk says:

          Nope, but well spent for their part if the result is a destroyed twitter

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • thepinsk says:

          I guess I have posted before using a different username, but I’m sure I forgot. Thanks!

          [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

        • Ben Soares says:

          …. so their still aboard the twitter train it seems.

          Seems to me with an engineer of their liking. They are not concerned with trifling twitter speculative value. They hold cash. Pablo Escobar to the 1000th.

        • bmaz says:

          And your point is exactly what?? This is yet another instance in which commenters here are irrationally out of their collective minds. Chill out, it is what it is, and will all sort out.

        • robert consoli says:

          My understanding is that as part of the deal the Saudis were brought in and are now the second largest owners of Twitter. You remember the Saudis – the guys that butchered Khashoggi. They’re real big believers in open communication. I deleted my account.

    • Formerly PM says:

      Exactly! Only question now is if the bad guys will rescue him while owning him. It will however turn into garbage no doubt. But the good content drivers have lost something too – a place where they have more instantaneous reach than anywhere. Stephen King benefited having this platform (he may not have needed it but he used it) as much as Twitter giving him that platform. There are no good alternatives for King and others right now. That’s a loss maybe not for King but good people who valued that kind of interaction with him (Disclaimer: King is just an example.)

      [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

      • bmaz says:

        I dunno, I think most people are still there at Twitter except hysterical idiots. That may not last long, we shall see I guess. Right now though, there is no alternative. Yet.

        • bmaz says:

          Until it is no longer useful as an utility, I will use it as such. It still is, even if it may not for any extended period of time. But I will not bail because “OMG Musk!”. The time may be nigh, but a lot of people are just popping off and ignoring that Twitter, for now, is still a usable platform, and the only one of its kind save for Facebook.

        • Rayne says:

          Those of us who leave have our own reasons for doing so — security and ethical concerns being among the most common reasons — but leaving a social media platform is no more idiotic than staying on Twitter.

          I left Facebook more than 10 years ago and LinkedIn about 8 years ago for similar reasons. Am I an idiot for doing that, too? Nope. Just exercising my personal choice.

        • -mamake- says:

          Thank you Rayne, for articulating this so well (as always). When fcbk came along and colleagues were jumping on the bandwagon, I was often asked why I wasn’t there. My response: ‘Privacy & time.’

          Never been a technical genius, I simply recognized the dangers as it was a field of hungry ghosts. All about choosing how one spends precious time and attention.

        • Cicero101 says:

          Ironically, I stay on Facebook because of a couple of very useful Tesla owners groups there. I don’t do Twitter as there’s not enough in it for me. I agree that use of these sites depends on their personal utility.

          BTW the Tesla model 3 is the best car I’ve ever owned, and I’ve had over 20 cars. I read a very good article in The Economist a few months ago analysing why legacy car makers are finding it hard to make the shift despite being determined to do so.

          And as for Musk re Teslas, I like Wagner’s music also.

        • Peterr says:

          Advertisers believe that the jury is still out on whether Twitter is still a usable platform for their purposes. From The Guardian:

          General Mills is the latest to join a growing group of companies halting advertising on Twitter after the social media platform was acquired by billionaire Elon Musk for $44bn.

          The company, known for its Cheerios and Lucky Charms cereals, confirmed on Thursday it would pause advertising on the platform. “We will continue to monitor this new direction and evaluate our marketing spend,” said spokesperson Kelsey Roemhildt.

          Last week, top US automaker General Motors Co temporarily paused paid advertising on Twitter amid chaos at the company. Volkswagen AG’s Audi also confirmed Thursday it would pause ads and “continue to evaluate the situation”, said spokesperson Whaewon Choi-Wiles.

          The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Pfizer had also suspended advertising spending at Twitter. The pharmaceutical company did not immediately respond to request for comment.

          The growing exodus of advertisers comes amid concerns Musk will scale back misinformation and security protections on the platform. As civil rights groups call potential moderation issues into question, companies are considering whether staying on Twitter might tarnish their brands. . . .

          Major advertisers spend big bucks to make and protect their brands. They are not about to risk all of that on the kind of wild west Twitter that Elmo promised to bring about when he wanted to buy the platform.

          And if Elmo is moaning about needing income now, if these pauses become full blown departures, he’s really going to be crying.

        • Badger Robert says:

          1. I am exploring the other options.
          2. There is a tendency to monopoly because the most crowded platform will have the best content.

        • Mart7890 says:

          Read somewhere that Musk will be forced to keep a good deal of content moderation or lose advertisers that account for over 90% of revenue. He also can’t afford to lose big names that drive folks to Twitter.

    • Tech Support says:

      Eh, I think it would be a mistake to take the position that Twitter has intrinsic anti-fascist value. The history of technology (even pre-digital tech) is littered with monolithic operators whose palaces were built on sand. Some of those businesses were quite well run and victims of their own success, too large and slow to pivot into the shifting needs and desires of the public.

      Facebook’s market dominance was built on the network effect of real-world social bonds, and it’s suffering at the hands of old-fashioned generational change. Twitter’s allure has always been the shortening of the distance between well-known individuals and the lesser-known people who are interested in what they have to say. An exodus of Stephen Kings, Patton Oswalts, and George Takeis to another platform will drag millions of people out of their comfort zones to learn a new platform.

      If that platform ends up being designed for more information assurance and less malfeasance? Then Musk will have perversely engineered a fantastic act of philanthropy.

      • bmaz says:

        “Stephen Kings, Patton Oswalts, and George Takeis” could all leave in the next hour and I would not give a shit. Where else you going to aggregate actual news as opposed to fan boy bullshit?

        • bmaz says:

          Nearly every major journalist in the world is on Twitter. It is an incredible aggregator. If you can’t see that, you don’t see much of anything, problems or otherwise. So, yes, “actual news”.

        • Unabogie says:

          Honestly, r/politics is a much better aggregator than Twitter. Twitter is a place to see people dunk on the news and newsmakers, but if I want just a place to see if anything new has popped up in the world, there is way too much noise-to-signal there.

        • pH unbalanced says:

          As a luddite who has never been on twitter, I don’t get my news from any single aggregator, I have about a half-dozen trusted sites that I’ve built up for different purposes (such as this one). And I get a lot of my news in audio form via podcasts, most of which I’ve been listening to for a decade or so.

          Diversity is strength in this case, because it reduces your chances of getting caught in a bubble or an echo chamber.

          Twitter has always reminded me too much of single-stream bboards from back in the usenet days to be worth spending much time on. Too much signal, not enough noise. (I fully admit that that impression may be wrong, though, since, as I said, I haven’t actually used it.)

        • Rayne says:

          Your impression of Twitter is wrong, and yes, it’s because you haven’t actually used it.

          One of my accounts has a list of major news outlets across the entire continent of Africa. Twitter made it easy to find and list those resources.

        • Willis Warren says:

          if you use twitter correctly, it’s the greatest information aggregator on the planet. Nothing has ever been close

  5. PM says:

    Twitter was better run whatever its faults and was a place for sane people when there are no other good alternatives. So, if Musk can disrupt that, and it appears that he already has and he will further, that itself is a win for all the bad guys, domestic or foreign. In other words, there is no limit to how much he can screw this up in driving out good people off that platform.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Kathy B says:

      Good news is that there are multiple smaller platforms that will compete with it. Twitter is just a platform (designed specifically to engage people emotionally, on an addiction model).

      Three weeks off twitter and on something different is very relaxing.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Thanks for changing to a more differentiated name but “Kathy B” is not long enough to meet the 8-letter minimum for usernames. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  6. Bay State Librul says:

    The Guardian was first in line on Patel

    Did the DOJ make a score or am I headed for the glue factory?

    “The immunity – a powerful tool that forces witnesses to testify on the promise that they will not be prosecuted for their statements or information derived from their statements – takes effect on 2 November and signals the importance of his testimony to the criminal investigation.”

    Question: Where in the legal code, is the immunity process explained?

    • Rugger_9 says:

      I think the terms of the immunity deal need to be examined to see just how much wiggle room Kash has to dodge questions, fib or otherwise muck up his testimony. I don’t recall seeing anything about the specifics, just that DoJ has one and with these guys it should be expected that they will leverage any parsing they can think of to not fully cooperate.

      Kash Patel is a true believer, even writing a children’s book (I won’t link to it) about how Patel as a wizard saved king Individual-1 from the evil clutches of HRC. I can’t see Patel giving up anything without being cornered into it.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          So what happens if Patel lies on the witness stand and the DOJ can prove it? Under immunity, is he still subject to prosecution for perjury or obstruction?

        • Troutwaxer says:

          This puts Patel in a very difficult position. Can he be hit with multiple charges of perjury/obstruction for different lines of questioning in his testimony?

        • Drew in Bronx says:

          The perjury problem is always possible, but the thing about this move is to lock Patel into a story that limits Trump–the “declassification by saying it” thing is one prominent part of that. Patel cannot now decline to respond to questions. He’s obligated to respond truthfully, but even if he chooses to lie, he’s locked into that response. I think that the most likely time for him to be charged with perjury is if he tries to change the story he tells the grand jury.

      • Arteberry says:

        There is no “immunity deal.” Nothing has been negotiated between Patel and DOJ. DOJ unilaterally moved the court for a grant of use immunity, so as to compel Patel to answer questions. Thus, any potential “wiggle room” is not bounded by a consensual agreement.

        But Patel, as we have come to know him, may very well choose to lie about certain subjects if he believes there is no way DOJ can subsequently prove he is lying. An example might be a discussion he had with Trump when nobody else was present. Of course, even in that context Patel courts danger for being untruthful. But, realistically, DOJ has to accept that there may be some testimonial inaccuracies that they can’t redress. In the larger view, DOJ probably doesn’t much care. The objective right now is mainly to lock in Patel’s story and guide DOJ in its trial preparation. If DOJ learns anything new and helpful that is a bonus. In the end, whatever Patel specifically says is not likely to submarine the entire case against Trump.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, all immunity applications have to be made, at a minimum, by the government and approved by the court (almost always the presiding District judge, in this case Beryl Howell). Saying it is a deal or not is a semantical distinction without difference.

    • Kathy B says:

      I read but can’t confirm that Patel had “use” immunity.
      Title 18 U.S.C. § 6002 provides use immunity instead of transactional immunity. The difference between transactional and use immunity is that transactional immunity protects the witness from prosecution for the offense or offenses involved, whereas use immunity only protects the witness against the government’s use of his or her immunized testimony in a prosecution of the witness — except in a subsequent prosecution for perjury or giving a false statement.

      Would love to understand more about the distinction I just posted. Does anyone have more?

      • matt fischer says:

        Put another way, with use immunity DOJ could potentially go after Patel for any crimes he may end up providing truthful self-incriminating testimony about, but DOJ would not be allowed to use that testimony, or its fruits, to do so.

  7. Rugger_9 says:

    OT: bmaz, what do you think of Sen Sinema’s latest ploy with Obama? Any chance she flips to the GQP?

    • bmaz says:

      Not sure what you are talking about. Did something occur? I don’t think there is any chance she flips, but who knows with her.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Sinema made a show of not campaigning in PHX with the rest of the Ds last night. She seems sore about something, maybe because it’s rumored that she is the most hated politician in the country. It takes a lot to beat Ted Cruz on that score.

        • bmaz says:

          Don’t know that she is the most hated at all. There is Manchin, Cruz, Graham et. al. But I doubt they wanted her, and doubt she was invited, but no personal knowledge on that front.

        • timbozone says:

          Whatever just happened there in Arizona is definitely some weird stuff. Was Sinema invited or not? Is there any info on that yet?

  8. Fraud Guy says:

    My favorite is him demanding $8 from AOC like he’s a collection agent. Maybe if he didn’t fire his CLO, he would be properly advised on FDCPA requirements about posting collection efforts on public media.

  9. Drew in Bronx says:

    I agree this is a forced marriage. But to be clear, there was absolutely no way that Musk was going to get out of it once he signed the contract. Delaware Chancery Court is its own special thing, and Musk got outlawyered at the outset because of his own impulsiveness. The (chief) Chancellor in Delaware is brilliant & tough and has no pity for white shoe law firms having to work long hours on short schedules. Also, since Tesla is a Delaware corporation, once a judgement was entered, if it wasn’t honored she would simply seize Musk’s shares in Tesla to satisfy it-no recourse for Elmo.

    I think the relation of Musk’s deposition to the sequence of settlement is that he didn’t want to sit still that long, especially having to answer questions from skilled attorneys. I don’t know that the revelations would have been any more embarrassing than his regular behavior. It wasn’t necessary for Twitter to get its result.

    I’m not an early adopter of anything, so I’ll wait for the Twitter ship to sink a little more and see how the alternative platforms are developing before I jump. It would take a startling about face from Elmo for Twitter to maintain vitality for more than a year or two. (Though it’s unclear to me what will happen when Twitter goes into Chapter Eleven–the banks aren’t even trying to syndicate its debt, it likely will be a flat loss).

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks. I agree you’re right about the lawsuit.

      But I also have reason to believe he was dodging due diligence.

      It amounts to the same: he’s fucked because of his own impulsiveness in April, and everything he has done since has only made things worse.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        I’ve got an account at CounterSocial but for now I’m focusing on Mastodon. I hope and expect alternatives to both will be rushed out to fill the role Twitter once did.

        Here you seem to imply that neither Mastodon nor CounterSocial will be able to fill Twitter’s shoes (…the expectation of alternatives). Are there specific problems with these two entities that lead you to believe that they won’t be viable alternatives themselves?

        • bmaz says:

          Because you have to get all the content and accounts you have spent years interacting on Twitter with. How you going to magically get them to an “alternative”? And without all of them any alternative is not worth much.

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          Well, Marcy seems to think that some alternative will find the magic, just not Mastodon or CounterSocial. My question was what are those two lacking that prevents them from finding the magic. In all three cases (Mastodon, CounterSocial, and the new alternative that finds the magic), the years of content, interaction, and relationships from twitter are absent (unless the “magic” is a way to connect the new alternative with the twitter-that-was).

        • bmaz says:

          I don’t speak for Marcy, I speak for me. And, yes, I do expect any alternative that is worth anything to be able to interact with Twitter. In the meantime, people engaging in the knee jerk to quit Twitter because of Musk seem pretty petty and misguided. It still works fine for me, though that may change at any time. But why cut off your nose to spite your face on something that is still usable despite Musk owning it? As to why, it is the same answer, there is not a set answer that everybody will go to. Until there is it is almost completely useless.

        • trnc2022 says:

          Most of the threats to leave if Elon took over seemed to be based on his promise to allow literally anything to be posted. Obviously, he never follows through on anything (voluntarily), but I suspect the threats to leave and the realization that advertisers would be right behind them figured into his plea for calm from advertisers.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s the federated versus centralized structure which is problematic for platforms like Mastodon or alternatives which rely on the same open source software. Jimmy Wales’ WikiTribune (wt.social) will have a similar problem if it is federated, though wt.social will also have problems due to its operation in UK subject to UK laws related to speech/defamation, not certain if it’s also operating to EU-like GDPR.

          The attribute which causes Twitter to be most toxic – the ability to reach a large population all at once in real time through centralization – is also the attribute which makes it most successful.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Yeah, the point about social media platforms is that they’re made out of people, not code, and replicating the “people” part is nigh-on impossible. The network will fragment and reconstitute itself in different places, but only in part and without the same network effects.

          (An under-examined aspect is that Twitter’s nym-space — people using pseudonymous handles to focus on different interests or express a particular facet of their identity or protect themselves — is also not easy to recreate from scratch elsewhere.)

          Social media platforms also require lots of people on the back end, because effective moderation requires employees with language skills, or knowledge of local legal compliance, or the ability to make judgment calls on content. You can only automate so much. And while Twitter is probably overstaffed, mass layoffs and permanent crunch are inevitably disruptive, especially when driven by VC bros with no experience of social media who think Twitter is made out of code. Any substitute platform faces the same challenges, because it’s baked into the cake.

        • Christenson says:

          I’m seeing at least one tweep simply parallel post on her mastodon feed. If that gets automated, and not knocked down by insane copyright, I can see a gradual migration — no, mastodon and similar won’t have all the history, but huge amounts of history aren’t the primary magic — but mastodon will gain the audience as it gets better at moderating the abuse and maybe even the advertising, so it becomes a nicer place to read stuff.

          Even twitter is experimenting with better moderation in the form of BirdWatch.

          As to the magic, well, 2021 10-K from twitter had something like 200Million users worldwide. That’s more popular than network TV news!

        • emptywheel says:

          There’s an app for that. I have not yet adopted it because the permissions are a bit broad (unsurprisingly). But I’m considering it.

    • bmaz says:

      In addition to mastodon, there is something from Jack Dorsey and his old group known a “Bluesy” that may have some promise. None of them will be worth much if most all the people you read and interact t with don’t get to the same alternative.

      • P J Evans says:

        “BlueSky”, and I understand it’s software to run a platform like Twitter, not a platform itself. (This from stories I’ve seen online.)

    • Frank Anon says:

      I think its more likely than not that the money was an immaterial concern. Musk seems to only crave a feeling of being omnipresent force with the ability to turn his thoughts and ideologies into the world. Pairing that with the international oligarchy that stayed in the Twitter deal as private limited investors and you get a very James Bond scenario on paper at least. Of course it makes zero sense financially and the vultures that will eventually tear down Twitter will seize on the Tesla stock backing much of the deal which could lower his stake and then control, leading to his more greater irrelevance. A friend of mine told me yesterday that stupid people don’t get to be billionaires which, outside of birthright is probably true. But people don’t often equate hubris or unrestrained ego with stupidity either

      • Just Some Guy says:

        “Pairing that with the international oligarchy that stayed in the Twitter deal as private limited investors and you get a very James Bond scenario on paper at least.”

        Agreed, the Saudi investment should be more scrutinized imho.

  10. FiestyBlueBird says:

    I read the Dave Troy piece “No, Elon and Jack are not “competitors.” They’re collaborating.”

    But I’m not sure what to make of it. As in, is Dave kind of a Louise Mensch conspiracy writer, or is Dave’s take on what he says is the plan in Musk’s mind relatively accurate? He addresses BlueSky as well.

        • bmaz says:

          Okay, have read it now. Not sure what to make of it. Bluesky may turn out okay, or it may not. Too many unknowns yet. But my understanding is, that while Musk may be a collaborator, he really won’t control Bluesky. Time will tell.

        • Baltimark says:

          So I’ve known Dave as a friendly acquaintance around Baltimore for about fifteen years, having intersected on various tech and community development matters. My first-ever use of an iPad, randomly enough, was when he lent me his for a day.

          I am by no means fully on board with some of his more maximalist conclusions, but his track record is leagues better than Mensch and I would not put him in that category at all myself. But I’m not here to litigate that larger question right now.

          I would say this: his Musk/Dorsey piece is well worth reading; if you choose to step off the bus short of the “Kremlinology” at the end of it, by all means do. BUT: the Jack/Elon content and the discussion of the nature of Bluesky is predicated on Dave’s direct work with Jack in the late 2000s and much other work since. It’s also mostly predicated on publicly verifiable prior comments and the technical penumbra of discussion around Bluesky itself.

        • Baltimark says:

          Agree completely, thus the other things I went on to say.

          On matters technical, corporate, and VC-community oriented, Dave’s batting average is very strong. If you made a list of folks who’ve never worked at Twitter with the deepest technical and monetization strategy exposure to the company, he’s probably in the top five.

          At the same time, I find his larger points often useful but yes, sometimes well over the top.

          MJ was mediocre at baseball, but that doesn’t preclude us touting his singular hoops talents.

        • FiestyBlueBird says:

          Thanks immensely for that. I’d watched a couple of Dave’s lectures on YouTube after first reading his Elon post.

          So…I thought the Mensch comparison was likely a poor one. Yet…I didn’t know for sure.

          Main thing is I found his Elon bit pretty interesting, and was hoping for some feedback on what other people thought. Thanks also to Rayne (below in another thread) for providing an opinion or two.

          I’m not usually the smartest guy in the room, and have admitted here before that I got taken (for a short while) by some of Louise’s nonsense.

        • Baltimark says:

          It’s definitely been interesting watching someone I know who had very young success as a serial entrepreneur and constructive change agent here locally morph into a fulltime whatever-you-care-to-call-him-now. And I’m rather bipolar in my reactions to his assertions myself. I find some — maybe a lot — of his conclusions over-determined. And he has trafficked with some folks whom I presume the vast majority of folks here (myself definitely included) consider beyond the pale — most notably S. Kendzior. At the same time, I think he touches upon a lot of ideological drivers and historical themes that warrant greater mainstream attention. And he does have the respect of a number of folks ranging from Anne Applebaum to Carole Cadwalladr to gal_suburban to his close feiend and technical colaborator Nate Mook (until recently, CEO of Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen). Carole may fall a bit into the “it’s complicated” pot here but the rest there are rather sober, respected folk — and Carole is for many.

          For those of us who love and appreciste Marcy’s brilliant and always receipt-based analysis, Dave on Twitter is sometimes a maximalist loose canon. Whereas my batting average of agreement/buy-in for Marcy is well north of .900, with Dave I’m closer to 50/50. But the hits are worth the misses. For what it’s worth, I’m Team Marcy re Twitter, but Dave’s counternarrative certainly has value, especially re the Elmo/Jack dynamic.

          Sadly, this commentary has caused me to recall the actual ongoing existence of Seth Abramson, whose name has not sullied my synapses in some time. So it goes.

  11. Kelly says:

    Good rundown!

    It’s both amusing and alarming how many of the shitlords like Elmo really do have the Shit Midas Touch. They can break anything. And they keep on breaking things.

    The insane part is that they are heralded as makers instead of breakers. Until the outrage-click model is superseded by a better model, with moderation, I just think the Shit Midas people are going to make more stories like this for any social media app.

  12. bawiggans says:

    Voted with my virtual feet and deactivated my Twitter account. Withdrawal from what is a recent addiction for me has been a little uncomfortable – I especially miss following Marcy – but each day is a little easier and minimizing any connection to Elon Musk, much less supporting anything he owns, is its own reward. He’s already received way too much of my tax money in federal subsidies for Tesla. Starve the beast. Other venues, better venues will emerge.

  13. cbear says:

    “Elmo” is simply brilliant, Marcy. Brilliantly cutting for someone of Elmo’s tender sensibilities!
    One can only pray it goes viral.

  14. BobBobCon says:

    It’s an interesting coincidence that Musk’s disaster coincides with Zuckerberg’s even bigger screwups.

    They’re both gigantic bets on fundamentally flawed single track plans. Twitter simply can’t supply the revenue needed to sustain the purchase price, and Meta will never succeed at the scale needed to justify Zuckerberg’s plan. Best case is something like video game console sales, which are measured at best in the tens of millions. He needs to reach cell phone sales, which are measured at levels ten times higher. And best case is looking awfully shaky. And there is no guarantee someone else won’t grab the market instead.

    What makes the Meta bet far worse, though, is that Zuckerberg has failed miserably in bringing new products to market. 3D glasses are all he has, and now he’s slashing the R&D workforce and budget needed to build anything new as he doubles down on his bet.

    Both Zuckerberg and Musk failed in large part because they are insulated and obtuse, and it’s increasingly clear that Zuckerberg’s imperial tendencies are at a Musk level.

    What’s really unfortunate in the press is how the omnipotent CEO model is still taken as a good thing.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Given the current Trumpified tax code, how much of the 44 B$ bath will Elmo get to write off? Even the obscenely rich can’t sustain those kinds of losses long term.

      • BobBobCon says:

        Every once in a while in business reporting someone smart will pop up to note that at this level net worth statements mean little, and what really matters are things like liquidity and how much someone can leverage.

        In Musk’s case, the big mess is not the hit to some abstract valuation, it’s that he’s seriously crimped his ability to sell more Tesla stock for cash for other boondoggles, and he’s set off alarm sirens for lenders.

        I would bet the $13 billion from Morgan Stanley etc. happened because execs steamrolled over objections from serious analysts about the risks of not being able to fob off the debt. That’s vastly less likely now.

        Musk may still be able to raise capital from nontraditional lenders, but the price will be much higher at a time when his liquidity is way down.

        • Just Some Guy says:

          “…and he’s set off alarm sirens for lenders.”

          And yet, Trump still had Deutsche Bank (until recently, I guess).

        • BobBobCon says:

          Sure, Trump went there, and the strings ended up a lot worse than if he could have just gone to a more conventional deal.

          Like I said, Musk still has options, but the costs will be higher and/or the risks greater at a time when his liquidity is down. All by itself it’s not the end, but it’s one piece of the puzzle.

        • timbozone says:

          If the GQP takes full control of the Congress in this next election, the corporate handwringing over the Twitter debts may become a hot-potato. Bail out money for Elmo anyone? Oh, right, I forgot about the GQP’s wish to bring the country to default just to prove…well, that they can cause that much chaos? Poor, poor lenders to Elmo… might be time to re-read “Fight Club”?

      • OwnedByTwoCats says:

        Elmo will probably try and pull a Trump, and claim the whole $44 Billion write-down on his taxes, while the investors who loaned him a bunch of that money lose everything.

    • Formerly PM says:

      Problem is that these people are never that smart. F*ckerberg never seemed like a smart guy to me from the outset and didn’t he steal this idea from someone else. His luck was in implementing FB as a viable entity. Also didn’t he have financial problems that went away with Russian investors – bringing in a Fox to guard the hen house. With all these new ideas as simple as they are, early bird gets the worm not that the bird is any more special than other birds. Tumbler guy stole the idea from I think 2 others and his claim came from again a viable implementation.

      • bmaz says:

        Who is “F*ckerberg”? If you want to refer to somebody, please do. Putting a stupid asterisk in there accomplishes nothing but making you and us look stupid. This shit is so childish and worthless it is mind numbing.

        • Formerly PM says:

          Delete my comment! You know who I am referring to from the context. I loathe that guy with every cell in my body. What his platform has done to us here and countries elsewhere least equipped to deal with the impact of his platform must be deemed criminal.

        • bmaz says:

          And you think it makes things better for you, or anybody, to put a stupid asterisk in his name? Seriously? Does it give e you jollies? Does it make you feel better? If so, why?

  15. Troutwaxer says:

    I’ve never been on Twitter (or Facebook.) Twitter’s always been a hot mess, as far as I can tell, and Facebook never wasn’t creepy.

    • bmaz says:

      Hot mess in what regard? Historically, Twitter has been fine. YOU get to curate what and who you want to see and interact with. It has worked fine given those parameters.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Twitter is a hot mess because ugliness drives engagement, and that sells ads, which is a big reason why neither Twitter or Facebook does much to moderate their nutcases. If you want to dig deeper Isabell Fall’s “I Sexually Identify As An Attack Helicopter” is a good place to start – just type it into Duckduckgo* and you’ll see lots of coverage.

        * Not into Google either. Guess which word they unofficially dropped from their motto.

        • bmaz says:

          And, yet, I have been on Twitter for nearly fifteen years and think that statement is garbage. YOU control who gets to you. The rest is whining, just block malefactors or set restrictions as to who can respond to you.

        • alfanovember says:

          Huh, I had always assumed the ‘attack helicopter’ phrase was just one more bit of internet flotsam and jetsam which memed its’ way across the planet via the thumbs of insecure young men. Instead, I’ve just read an evocative and well-written little bit of Science Fiction, and the notion of exploiting the gender-gaze for military purposes is an unexpected perspective. I’m not quite sure how it relates to Twitter, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

        • Rayne says:

          Not understanding why you’re not seeing the coverage of Fall’s short story on Google because I can see a lot of it. Is it weighted away from the anti-trans/TERF perspective? Yeah, but I’d expect content versus histrionics to surface.


          Not going to use DuckDuckGo in spite of their now-suspended partnership with Yandex. No idea what that relationship meant or what suspending it means now.

      • Christenson says:

        There are some problematic aspects of twitter for at least some people.

        The occasional malefactor isn’t the problem, it’s when you suddenly find yourself in twitter jail because of a mass of them suddenly reporting you, or when hundreds or a thousand of them show up at once, organized, say, on KiwiFarms, or when they start showing up at your house or sending SWAT teams because someone said that would be a good thing to happen, all because you have some oddball personal characteristic they despise and are outspoken, for example # keffals.[*]

        For accounts with followers in the thousands, a minor gaffe that merits a brief remonstration can turn into a storm of tens or hundreds of critical replies, each well-meaning.

        Then there’s the fact that since I haven’t logged in and just scroll past the nag boxes, I have yet to see an ad, but I see lots of Marcy’s tweets.

        Not that these issues are exclusive to twitter or have simple solutions. There are some mass block lists out there, too, one was called the “chudsweeper”.

        [* FYI, space added between hashtag and search term because we do not need the hassle. /~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          Nobody is going to show up at your house “swatting” you, that is hysterical. And I have been not just in Twitter jail, but prison, so have a pretty good grasp on that. Do you? So too, is your fear of swarming. suck it up.

        • Christenson says:

          I don’t have nearly enough notoriety (or a possessive man) to need to be afraid; I’m simply citing the worst incidents of organized harassment for the proposition that at least a few people have bad experiences with twitter.

          My own mileage is quite a bit better than that, not at all a “hot mess”.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Unfortunately, I must read Twitter. It’s the only way to follow the news these days. And see my reply to bmaz above.

    • Rayne says:

      Troy has a good point that Musk and Dorsey aren’t competitors though Dorsey’s Blue Sky *is* a competing social media platform.

      Troy is talking out of his ass when it comes to fiat currency because 1) the world relies on US banking as a safety net and it is based on the US’ fiat currency, and 2) the chances of a Constitutional amendment to remove the power of Congress to establish fiat currency is slim to none.

      Troy’s more recent interstitial update about Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (added on/after 10/31 to Troy’s post dated 10/29) is important, but the world economy has been migrating away from oil and KSA’s desire to peg the global economy on oil is already approaching obsolescence.

    • Max404Droid says:

      I read the David Troy piece, found it interesting. Last few paragraphs were a bit over the top.

      Hopefully Elmo’s attempts to become God will bankrupt him, he will vaporize, and we can have his space back.

      All these smart dudes with lots of cash from monetizing some platform or another, who think their cash proves they are divine, make me think of the book American Power and the New Mandarins, Noam Chomsky’s first foray into political writing. Whatever you may think of where his thinking has gone in more recent years, this little quote that Wikipedia grabbed is precious:

      Quite generally, what grounds are there for supposing that those whose claim to power is based on knowledge and technique will be more benign in their exercise of power than those whose claim is based on wealth or aristocratic origin? On the contrary, one might expect the new mandarin to be dangerously arrogant, aggressive and incapable of adjusting to failure, as compared with his predecessor, whose claim to power was not diminished by honesty as to the limitations of his knowledge, lack of work to do or demonstrable mistakes.

      He was talking about McNamara, I think, but my copy is buried in a box in the garage; can’t check.

      I met Noam a few times, including one afternoon in his house soaking my cold feet in a hot bath provided by his sweet wife as I had hitch-hiked in the New England winter to meet him; he was interested in things I wrote about Vietnam; she was concerned I would die of pneumonia. It was soon after New Mandarins was published and I was pretty psyched to meet him.

      PS I am going to stick with the new >8 username, sorry if is taken me a few tries to settle on this one.

      • bmaz says:

        Thank you, although your longtime name was probably fine. It is good when people do what you have done and modify their name in a fashion where the original is still obvious. Again, thanks.

  16. Bugboy321 says:

    “Elmo entered what is effectively a forced marriage.”

    You’ve all heard of the “reverse mortgage”? I’m gonna say it’s more of a “reverse divorce” than a “forced marriage”. At some point it gets too expensive to proceed, so you just stay married.

    But seriously folks, any time you see someone say “Power to the people!” immediately followed by the price of said “Power to the people”, one should run as fast as possible in the opposite direction. Like, say, to mastadon.social…

  17. Desider says:

    So Elmo could’ve eaten the $1 billion penalty – relatively chump change for him at this point, and getting more and more common based on his SEC track record – and then jumped back in the game with a $20b offer, saving himself ~$20b-$23b potentially.
    Instead he’s gone all “attention WalMart shoppers!” on us, becoming a live bit of human nagware to try to recoup his shortsightedness.
    I always figured he was more tech savvy then business acumen, but he didn’t have to prove it so thoroughly. And we already knew about his spectrum-like lack of social skills – why would he put that on display for a massive social network? The dude needs an intervention.

    • Arteberry says:

      The $1 billion break-up fee has long been irrelevant in the Twitter v Musk litigation. If Musk could have escaped his obligation to purchase Twitter for just $1 billion he would have done so in a heartbeat. Musk’s problem was the specific performance clause in the purchase agreement and the well-known inclination of the Delaware courts to enforce specific performance clauses. In other words, Twitter had an enforceable right to require Musk to complete the entire deal at the agreed $44 billion price. If Musk failed to close,, he was going to be hit with a money judgment for $44 billion (plus costs).

    • UziTenenbaum says:

      Seeing commentary from usually-reliable sources indicating that the “oops, my bad” $1B penalty wasn’t really on the table once the chancery court came into the picture.

    • emptywheel says:

      As Drew in Bronx described upthread, there really wasn’t a $1B option for Elmo because his ownership interests in other DE based corporations (notably Tesla) would have been used to force him to consummate the deal. Once it became clear he’d lose at trial, he had to go forward or lose the $44B anyway, which given the stock value of Tesla right now would be worse than that.

      • Arteberry says:

        If Musk were hit with a $44 billion judgment, because of the specific performance clause, his Tesla shares and anything he owns within the U.S. (or outside the U.S., though with certain caveats as to those assets) would be subject to levy and execution. That includes but is not limited to his Tesla shares. It doesn’t matter either way that Tesla is a Delaware corporation. Theoretically, if the current Twitter stockholders agreed, post-judgment, to retain ownership of the company, Musk would get an offset against the $44 billion in an amount equal to the company’s market cap when the deal was made. That would represent the status quo ante for Twitter and its management, plus an infusion of more than $10 billion in cash (don’t have the exact prior market cap number handy.) But I imagine the current Twitter stockholders would rather transfer all ownership to Musk and receive the full $44 billion.

        • Drew in Bronx says:

          The relevance of Tesla’s being a Delaware corporation was pointed out by a professor of corporate law who was following this. A judgement can be enforced against property anywhere, but shares in a Delaware corporation are deemed to be personal property *within Delaware* so that there are no jurisdictional complications and few, if any, avenues to resist the Delaware courts directly enforcing the judgement. -it’s impossible to hide or obfuscate those assets.

        • Arteberry says:

          All of which serves to underscore the basic point: Musk’s economic exposure in the Twitter case has not been expanded or contracted by the decision to incorporate Tesla, Space X, or any of his other companies in Delaware.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s called specific performance, a standard but rarely used remedy in contract law. It gives a party to one contract the right to enforce its performance against the other, when money damages would be inadequate. Here, it’s forcing Musk to go through with a deal and pay the agreed price.

      That Musk had substantial assets subject to Delaware’s jurisdiction gave the chancery court a big stick in enforcing it. I suspect he’s rethinking that ownership structure right now.

      • Arteberry says:

        You are ignoring the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, adopted by all but (I believe) three states. [And those three states use a somewhat similar approach.] Once Delaware enters a money judgment against Musk, the judgment may readily be domesticated and enforced in any of the states party to the Act. It doesn’t matter if Musk has “substantial assets subject to Delaware’s jurisdiction.” As noted, his overseas assets would be trickier to reach, depending on the location. But anywhere within the U.S., Twitter could effectively reach Musk’s ownership of Tesla shares or any of his other identifiable assets. Your comment on “ownership structure” is puzzling. The vast majority of publicly traded companies are incorporated in Delaware, for a well-recognized set of compelling reasons. It’s not as though, by incorporating Tesla elsewhere, Musk could have avoided the economic exposure he faced in the Twitter lawsuit. Not as long as he signed the purchase agreement he signed, which included a waiver of due diligence, specific performance, choice of Delaware forum, and Musk’s personal guarantee.

        • bmaz says:

          Does not need to be ignored, Tesla is a Delaware Corporation. Most smart ones are either Delaware or Nevada. But Earl is right, the Chancery Court would have no issue whatsoever going there if Musk had lost. So, the UEFJA is really necessary.

        • Arteberry says:

          The error is in the various comments that have been posted here suggesting that the economic outcome for Musk in any way depended on the fact that Tesla or any of Musk’s companies is incorporated in Delaware. It would have made no difference if Tesla was incorporated in Idaho. Execution in Idaho, if that were the locus of the personal property, on a judgment from Delaware would in no meaningful way be more difficult than execution directly in Delaware, if that were the locus of the personal property. The basic point is there is still no alternative “ownership structure,” or state of incorporation, for Tesla that—despite the comment of Earl and others—would have limited Musk’s exposure under the terms of the purchase agreement. And Twitter would never have agreed to the deal without Musk’s personal guarantee and without verifiable proof of Musk’s direct ownership of reachable U.S. assets more than sufficient to finance the deal (even if some of the purchase price was being loaned by third parties.)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          A little too earnest for my taste, and focused on a secondary issue in my comment. You could have made your comment without anchoring it in mine. My point was simply to name the concept, specific performance, and point out that it’s a standard feature of contract law, but rarely used because monetary damages are usually an adequate remedy.

          Yes, it’s nice to have a readily enforceable foreign judgment. It’s an advantage, a bigger stick, when a single state court has direct leverage over more assets of the defaulting party. Your argument doesn’t dispute that. Everyone has seen, for example, how Trump uses delaying tactics and abuses process and language to delay the obvious outcome of litigation. Enforcement actions in multiple jurisdictions can cost time and a lot of money, risk adverse, if temporary, holdings by multiple judges, and push back one’s priority.

          Yes, Musk’s goose was cooked the minute he signed a contract that waived due diligence, included specific performance, explicitly consented to Delaware jurisdiction and included the piece de resistance: his personal guarantee. Most lawyers would have argued not to include one or more of those things, but Elon seems to take good advice about as well as Trump. He may be a victim of his own rashness, stubbornness and lack of restraint – but Twitter’s employees, users, vendors, and lenders will pay a big price for it.

          Lastly, despite its legacy status and considerable attractions, Delaware is no longer the only or most obvious state in which to incorporate.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          From what I’ve heard, Nevada and Wyoming probably top the non-Delaware league table for American, corporate friendly, and simple to navigate secrecy jurisdictions. Delaware has made moves to match them, which says a lot in what amounts to a race to the bottom for transparency and accountability.

          Join one or more of those in series, or add a few offshore tax havens – Ireland, the BVI or a Dutch holding company – and/or rearrange the order from top to bottom, and you approach UK levels of opaqueness. A tax adviser’s wet dream, so long as you reevaluate yearly to stay ahead of reform efforts.

  18. Naomi Schiff says:

    Thank you for this, Dr. Wheeler! When you finish painting, two typos in this bit, neither critical: inapt advisors and Elmo himself keep boasting as if they’re not the ones who just got their assess — probably inept, and asses, no? And yes, the Teslas roaring up my street drive me nuts.

    • emptywheel says:

      I did mean inapt but yes I did mean asses. By inapt I mean people who don’t understand what Twitter is, and so are giving Elmo bad advice about how to fix his problems.

  19. L. Eslinger says:

    Perhaps we will see a rise in the prominence of more flexible and powerful aggregators, which would allow people to more easily follow Marcy Wheeler without regard to the platforms she uses. This might allow creators to more easily segue from brand affecting forums (which may downplay the critical value of those who create) to happier places with fewer readership repercussions.

    I’d like to see aggregators that allow creators to automatically push content, rather than rely upon crawlers.

    • rip no longer says:

      I get my quick shots of recent news from RSS feeds rather then waiting for some aggregator to pull and filter what it wants. The feed readers also avoid the crap images/videos that plague google news and serve no informational purpose.

      There are tons of feed aggregators including those built into Firefox. My preference is Inoreader – highly customizable, and if you are into it, even programmable.

      Most major international sites have RSS feeds. Sometimes you need to search for their links. With Inoreader they will recognize almost all major international news sites.

      • LordAvebury says:

        +1 to RSS. Like Bmaz, I joined Twitter at the beginning, and found it incredibly useful for a number of distinct (but non-overlapping) use cases. The problem that I ran into was that in order to keep these applications organized and non-conflicting, I had to rely on third party Twitter client applications which broke every time Twitter tweaked its APIs. Eventually the horrible UX led me to abandon Twitter for all but a few trivial purposes, and I dusted off my old Google Reader OPML list, subscribed to Feedly, and I’ve never looked back.

        And yes, I did delete my Twitter account this week. Despite Bmaz’s sneers, there was no pearl-clutching involved: it was something I had been meaning to do for a year or two, and I thought it would be fun to help to rub Musk’s nose in it.

  20. Bobster33 says:

    Elon Musk bought Twitter to own a media company, just like Bezos owns WaPo, Murdock owns Fox, etc.–it’s what billionaires do. Musk wants a platform that will feed his ego and enable him to spout his BS directly to the masses. The fact that he overpaid for it is a bonus.

    • FL Resister says:

      Yes there is satisfaction in knowing that Elon Musk’s money is vanishing into the ether if only to prove points about these asses but what a waste.
      Right out of the gate he pushes the grossest disinformation imaginable.

      Boy Wonder becomes Boy Blunder.

      I tried to log-off Twitter today and was only given the option to de-activate myself. So I complained to Customer Service from two different angles.
      Hour later no one has answered me back.

  21. Jenny says:

    Thank you Dr. Marcy. “Thus far, it seems clear that Elmo is not suitable to run Twitter.” Totally agree.

    Where is the gratitude? Correct me if I am wrong, this man’s companies received billions of dollars from the U.S. government, actually the taxpayers. Where would he be without government support?

    “Funded by the government just means funded by the people. Government, by the way, has no money. It only takes money from the people. Sometimes people forget that that’s really what occurs.” Elon Musk

    “I always invest my own money in the companies that I create. I don’t believe in the whole thing of just using other people’s money. I don’t think that’s right. I’m not going to ask other people to invest in something if I’m not prepared to do so myself.” Elon Musk

    “I think there should be regulations on social media to the degree that it negatively affects the public good.”
    Elon Musk

  22. Klaatu Something says:

    Elmo contributed to the corruption of Rick and Morty (season 4, episode 3), he’s becoming another Donald “Every I touch turns to shit” Trump

    I am his enemy until the End of Time and love every minute of this

    (wow, I’m comment number 969132, does the Millionth get a prize?)

  23. Formerly PM says:

    Well, Musk is not a serious person (understatement of the year, I know). We need idealism and seriousness to run these SM platforms, more so from providers but from consumers too. There was such a thing to whatever extent happening on Twitter prior to Musk. There are no good alternatives to twitter right now. I am just surprised that there are no takers when the demand is this ripe for a healthy SM platform. Back in the 1990s there was such good faith not for profit effort in developing browsers for example, that it makes me wonder where all that idealism went. Dorsey took a simple publish/subscribe protocol and made a product out of it. Maybe he is right that it should have remained more of a protocol open for improvement than a for profit company.

  24. rattlemullet says:

    I owe this community an apology for my simplistic sweeping generalizations about FB and Twitter. With the simplistic statement that Facebook was for fools and Twitter was for idiots. I was wrong, obviously each platform can have very beneficial uses when used and tailored correctly by the individual. Having said that I do think that both platforms have generally been abused by disinformation and manipulated for negative social impact and was using that generalization in regards to that negative impact I saw, not realizing the benefits that could be derived with responsible use. As with most thing in life, you get out the best result with the more time you spend learning the in and outs of what ever it is you are using. After reading a good post on LGM about twitter I realized how my simplistic take was so very wrong.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I don’t think you owe anyone an apology for feeling that Facebook and Twitter have numerous negative issues. The problems are obvious and difficult to solve.

  25. ergo says:

    I can’t even figure out how to get onto mastodon, it looks like you can only join “other servers”, at this point. I feel like it’s a giant mess of an application

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      Try this site which offers a bunch of pointers: https://fedi.tips/

      Unlike Twitter which appears to its users as a single server, Mastodon is a collection or federation of servers, any one of which users can choose to join or to follow content on that server. The servers do not all have the same rules so picking a server can be important depending on one’s needs.

      • ergo says:

        I’m aware of the federation, but the problem is also the federation. That’s kinda what I was getting at. You can easily have 4chan levels of unfiltered hatred and racism that are just spouted all day even down to openly advocating violence, and Mastodon will just shrug and say “it’s federation!” – and even if they block it, others won’t and it’ll still show in federation feeds.

        I genuinely hope people don’t put on rose-colored glasses to look at the elephant-sized poo left in mastodon’s wake.

        • ergo says:

          Again? What is wrong with my username? I asked this, and I guess I can ask here too? Why am I thinking for other people? If things are shit, they are. What’s the surprise (for calling a spade a spade?)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Et in Arcadia ego, there are guidelines. As I’m sure Rayne will have said, and just for starters, user names should have eight characters or more.

          You might also consider paying more attention to the distinction between opinions and facts, and to recognizing that analogies have limits. “Elephant sized-poo” is a metaphor and opinion that doesn’t offer much factual information to a reader about a web offering’s strengths and weaknesses. But that’s just my opinion.

        • ergonap1 says:

          Yeah fair enough, I guess I missed the 8 character part and they have been trying to remind me for days, but to make a case about mastodon having issues would delve deep into technology issues. I’m not sure if I should or shouldn’t here, or if folks would be able to follow on that or not.

        • bmaz says:

          What are you here? You are full of horse manure, and insist on spreading it around. Find somewhere else for that.

        • ergonap1 says:

          Surely you can do something other than ad hominem all day, or I guess maybe I’m mistaken. I’d say congrats for deciding someone was a troll and somehow deserving of your vitriol but usually that kind of thing is left to 4chan. Happy Friday to you.

          Why would I just openly troll emptywheel or even care to? Have you ever thought in that brain of yours…that maybe not everyone is here to troll, intentionally or accidentally? Would I apologize if I’m trying to troll or even keep responding to you, on a social platform where all you say is “go away”? I mean, have you even seen people troll websites?

    • Mister Sterling says:

      Mastodon looks good, but the multiple server setup requires users to have slightly more tech skills than the average Facebook or Twitter user. Thankfully my years with Linux helped out. I chose the Scotland (.scot) server for now. Finding and following Marcy was not super easy, but I got it.

  26. Alan Charbonneau says:

    What Musk got out of this purchas is the ability to say AOL/Time Warner is no longer the king of bad deals.

  27. tinao says:

    You know, as a pirate to a whole bunch of other pirates, I just hope your still objective enough to know when to call for parlay. Your real close to burning yourselves down.

    • ExRacerX says:

      Gotta admit I DON’T know. It’s “you’re” and “really,” but I can’t help you with the rest of that mess.

      “Pirates”? And who are the “pirates” supposed to parlay with? Gibberish.

      • tinao says:

        hey there racer, if what I say is gibberish and you can’t understand the basic fact that people should not be isolated and should not be able to describe what it is that they think, than I beg to differ. I don’t intend to have everyone understand the way I feel, but I’ll make my case regardless.

        • ExRacerX says:

          “I don’t intend to have everyone understand the way I feel, but I’ll make my case regardless.”

          FYI, if people don’t understand what you’re writing, you’re not “making your case.” Hopefully you’re doing a better job with that flower bed.

    • tinao says:

      Ooops, that would be bmaz. : -) Listen I know you are a damn fine lawyer, with exceptional analytic skills doing a great job of holding people to account, but everything just doesn’t fit into that box! I guess I may be one of those things.

        • tinao says:

          Again, I beg to differ bmaz. When you say I did’t answer anything on the front end, what do you mean “front end” ? It is corporate america as I have stated that does not want us to see them as a force we all have to live with. Sure, cut me down for using vague terms we all feel emotionally connected to but have no voice for. If life was the same for us all…

        • tinao says:

          Do you have any idea what it takes for me to comment here? My lawyer brother won’t even comment here because its sooo heavy. And he’s right, you people are wicked smart. I just feel everybody has a right to comment when provoked.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, and your “style” is exactly….what? Your brother is irrelevant if he is too chicken to engage.

        • tino says:

          It’s called freeform bmaz, ever since I was a teenager. And well, as far as my brother is concerned, he is every bit as smart as you. He does his fight in another forum, so I wouldn’t judge that which you know nothing of so readily. Really, you guys won’t abide a challenge to your understanding so lamely?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Every kitchen has its own pace, heat, quality of tools, and work standards. You have to find one that fits what you can handle. This one may not be it. For starters, trying to moderate a moderator generates a low probability of success.

        • tinao says:

          Look Earl, I know when to throw in the towel and generally that’s when the reasoned end comes. Where have I committed an unreasoned answer? Hmm?, Yes, I know my out of left field comments are sometimes hard to see. But I’m not sure all people disagree to the play in the field. Whether it’s instantly realize or not. You know I’ve been around a while and am not always ambiguous/ornery. Such a deal only today!

        • Christenson says:

          You still aren’t making sense to much of anyone. The reason is disconnectedness… you made a fine metaphor about pirates, and parleying, and burning things down, but you gave us no good indication as to who the pirates were or what it was you think might burn down.

          If you meant to say it’s twitter that’s going to burn down, the EW community is analysts with little control; we look at evidence and think about likely and best responses and causes and do a little cheering. St Elmo of the fire (Musk) is giving off contradictory signals today — now he wants to fire *only* half his staff, but he also seems to have spoken with some civil society groups and he has managed to enrage the frothers.

        • tinao says:

          Chistianson, no it is not just the twitter community, but corporate actors at large. The musk is just the latest symbol of what’s wrong. Really, I thought people here are good at connecting dots. What will end is their control of “ecomonmic control over most people.” We wavering in our understanding of what can come next. We truley need to see the razors edge we are on. I’m a generally light hearted observer throwing my 2 cents in, but today I worry the bridge will fall down.

  28. GlennDexter says:

    You nailed it. I’d only recently learned how unprofitable Twitter was. It’s a money pit.
    I’m also painting while this is going on. Taking my time though since I’m lazy.

  29. HorsewomaninPA says:

    Love “Elmo”. I’ve called him Ego Musk for a while now and I have to say he is a textbook “head-in-the-clouds” entrepreneur type who fashions himself as an expert in everything.

    Every thing he has done with respect to Twitter is enumerated on a well-known list entitled “How to totally screw up a merger, acquisition or takeover”. I’m not referring to his poor decision to buy something that doesn’t make money. I’m referring to his ego that tells him he knows everything about social media because, well, he’s used it.

    He knows diddly about running a social media company or turning one around (two different skills sets) and thinks he knows the secret sauce of turning a profit, because, well, he is just so smart. It is a frequent mistake I’ve seen over and over again.

    I’m not complaining, I’ve made a good living on helping those over-confident “visionaries” who consistently over-estimate their own capabilites and underestimate how complex it is to lead an already operational organization, implement transformational change and have it all work smoothly so the company’s viability isn’t compromised.

    I give him a year. He’ll either file for bankruptcy or Twitter will be something completely different (and probably still not profitable).

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Horsewoman, In an attempt to discover where that enormous ego came from, I did a brief dive into Musk’s family. Turns out his mom Maye just recently became the oldest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model in history. His dad Errol fathered a child with his (Errol’s) step-daughter; it seems Errol also shot and killed three people in what was ruled “self-defense.”

      So it seems Newton’s apple not only doesn’t fall far from the tree, it falls upwards. Gravity as we know it doesn’t apply to some–Marilyn Monroe (“Gravity happens to all of us”) notwithstanding.

      • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

        I have my own unique theory of heredity: If your parents had kids, it means that their parents probably had kids, too.

  30. Super Dave says:

    I always learn something reading Dr. Wheeler’s posts. I also always learn things reading the comments. What I learned today from the comments is that this blog is very fortunate to have someone commenting whose ego is at least as large as Elmo’s.

  31. Rugger_9 says:

    OT: Judge Engoron in NY just ordered an independent monitor for all of the non-cash assets claimed in the 2021 Statement of Financial Condition for Individual-1. The list includes M-a-L, Trump Triplex (Trump Tower), 40 Wall Street and Trump Park Avenue apartments. That will put a crimp into plans to hide things, given how Individual-1 already tried to bury assets in a freshly minted LLC to keep it away from the NYS AG Leticia James.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The minimum necessary to secure payment of any penalty. Trump cheats and hides everything, in the best of times. He has no restraint, even when he’s not under pressure. There is no room for good faith assumptions about what Trump might do or not do to forestall financial ruin, or even simply paying a penalty.

  32. timbozone says:

    I particularly like how Elmo tried to get Twitler to pay $20 to be a verified Tweeter again…and Twitler said “No way, Jose!”…after Elmo was a basically buying the whole shebang for $44 billion dollars so that Twitler could get Twitler’s tweetly fixes back. Did Twitler told Elmo “No, you pay me or I stick it to you!”? Elmo is poor rich sads…

      • Christenson says:

        Betting it’s bestselling author Stephen King as “Twitler”.
        * Nowhere near as clear as “Area SubStacker” for Glenn Greenwald. *
        * Noting in general that youtube has recognized that it’s popular content creators bring in the audience, so youtube pays them, rather than the other way around.

  33. L. Eslinger says:

    Are the number of comments to this post approaching a record for emptywheel?

    Seems like an unusually high number.

    Maybe EW should start a hybrid alternative to Twitter: with interest like this, getting funding might not be a problem.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL Not a record though it’s one of the posts which has accumulated a large number of comments quickly.

      I suppose I should put up another thread related to Elmo’s little problem. Kind of late for Marcy since it’s coming up on witching hour in Ireland.

      • L. Eslinger says:

        Elmo seems to have stirred something in your readership. Or, maybe, witching hour came early to Ireland today and a few web spells were cast (did I just suggest that Marcy Wheeler is a witch?).

        Once met a priest in a Dublin hotel bar (a hotel now owned by U2) and we went off on a pub crawl to escape a wedding reception. Turned out that he knew – and was known by – a large number of pub operators, and for the remainder of the night we enjoyed a good deal of what my grandfather referred to as poetry, which is a magic often used to ward off – or at least momentarily forget – one’s demons. Elmo Musk may now be in dire need of some poetry.

  34. Badger Robert says:

    I observe the comments that bmaz moderates for emptywheel and I wonder how long will anyone want to use Twitter if no one is moderating there?

    • P J Evans says:

      A lot of people will disappear, because they’ll get tired of blocking trolls/spammers. (I’ve blocked a lot in the last week. The number of people who think videos should be released in the Pelosi attack, even after it’s been pointed out that those are *evidence*, is amazing.)

  35. Dunnydone says:

    Game Stop this motherfucker right now

    Imagine what a concerted effort could do to this clown

    Tesla fucked. Twitter fucked. Someone call Bezos to file some legal wizardry to get spacex kicked off nasa’s block (blowing holes in our atmosphere for no reason, telling people we’ll get to Mars with ordinary rocket propulsion)

    This guy is a fucking stooge (apologies to Larry curly and Moe)

    Him Donny Vlad and MBS are going to quite the inept foursome playing putt putt with each others balls in hades

    Superb post kind Dr.

    //I/we need a Guinness

  36. GrantS01 says:

    First, why didn’t Musk find Trumpian delays to avoid this? (Naming him Elmo is fantastic)

    And second, since this will fail epically, how soon can vultures start picking away at the stinking carcass?

    AFAIC Elmo became evil when he said he couldn’t pay for critical Starlink Communications in Ukraine.

    • Kathryn_in_MA says:

      I protest linking the name of beloved Elmo to this repulsive fascist Elon. Please use the name Elon.

  37. Doug R says:

    With about 400+ million monthly users, if Twitter charged EVERYONE $20 once and sold them a share, twitter could become a co-op.
    But that’s only about $8 billion, assuming almost everyone sticks around.

  38. Kathryn Rifkin says:

    Is it too late to introduce the real ‘Elmo?’ He was a beloved member of the cannabis community, who earned the name Elmo after taking too much LSD, rendering him capable of only saying “Elmo” He was a hash maker and here is the video of how to make bubble hash. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u0IRC_akak
    Let’s besmirch the Elon name.

  39. timbozone says:

    “St. Elmo’s Fired. The ballyhooed saint of under-performing tech bro fascist wannabes everywhere graces the silver screen. With special guest Josh Holmes as First Disciple, this capitalist-on-a-rampage box-office-bomb continues to amaze. Sure to be a cult classic amongst a certain crowd. For over-rated audiences only.”

    —2Real2bReel, 2022

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