Business

Billionaire Musk hopes to have new Twitter chief executive in place 'towards end of year'

Elon Musk talks virtually to Mohammad Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, during the World Government Summit in Dubai
Elon Musk talks virtually to Mohammad Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, during the World Government Summit in Dubai Elon Musk talks virtually to Mohammad Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, during the World Government Summit in Dubai

BILLIONAIRE Elon Musk has said he anticipates finding a chief executive for Twitter "probably toward the end of this year".

Speaking via a video call to the World Government Summit in Dubai, Mr Musk said making sure the platform can function remained the most important thing for him.

"I think I need to stabilise the organisation and just make sure it's in a financial healthy place," he said when asked about when he would name a chief executive.

"I'm guessing probably toward the end of this year would be good timing to find someone else to run the company."

It remains unclear how seriously Mr Musk will take that timeline.

His comment came only hours after he posted images of his shiba inu dog, Floki, on Twitter as the company's "CEO".

"So much better than that other guy!" wrote Mr Musk, who often posts memes.

After making the posts, a cryptocurrency known as Dogecoin, based around the image of a shiba inu meme, rose in value by around 5%.

Mr Musk has previously suggested Twitter accept Dogecoin in transactions.

The 51-year-old made his wealth initially on the finance website PayPal, then created the spacecraft company SpaceX and invested in the electric car company Tesla.

In recent months, however, more attention has been focused on the chaos surrounding his 44 billion dollar (£36.4 billion) purchase of the microblogging site Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military's use of Mr Musk's satellite internet service Starlink as it defends itself against Russia's ongoing invasion has put Mr Musk off and on at the centre of the war.

Mr Musk offered a wide-ranging 35-minute discussion that touched on the billionaire's fears about artificial intelligence, the collapse of civilisation and the possibility of space aliens.

But questions about Twitter kept coming back up as Mr Musk described both Tesla and SpaceX as able to function without his direct, day-to-day involvement.

"Twitter is still somewhat a start-up in reverse," he said.

"There's work required here to get Twitter to sort of a stable position and to really build the engine of software engineering."

Mr Musk also sought to portray his takeover of San Francisco-based Twitter as a cultural correction.

"I think that the general idea is just to reflect the values of the people as opposed to imposing the values of essentially San Francisco and Berkeley, which are so somewhat of a niche ideology as compared to the rest of the world," he said.

"And, you know, Twitter was, I think, doing a little too much to impose a niche."

Mr Musk's takeover at Twitter has seen mass sackings and other cost-cutting measures.

Mr Musk, who is on the hook for about one billion dollars (£828 million) in yearly interest payments for his purchase, has been trying to find ways to maximise profits at the company.

However, some of Mr Musk's decisions have conflicted with the reasons that journalists, governments and others rely on Twitter as an information-sharing platform.

Mr Musk on Wednesday described the need for users to rely on Twitter for trusted information from verified accounts.

However, a confused rollout to a paid verified account system saw some impersonate famous companies, leading to a further withdrawal of needed advertising cash to the site.

"Twitter is certainly quite the rollercoaster," he acknowledged.

Forbes estimates Mr Musk's wealth at just under 200 billion dollars (£165 billion).

The Forbes analysis ranks Mr Musk as the second-wealthiest person on Earth, just behind French luxury brand magnate Bernard Arnault.

But Mr Musk has also become a thought leader for some as well, albeit an oracle that is trying to get six hours of sleep a night despite the challenges at Twitter.

Mr Musk described his children as being "programmed by Reddit and YouTube".

However, he criticised the Chinese-made social media app TikTok.

"TikTok has a lot of very high usage (but) I often hear people say, 'Well, I spent two hours on TikTok, but I regret those two hours'," Mr Musk said.

"We don't want that to be the case with Twitter."

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Musk warned that artificial intelligence should be regulated "very carefully", describing it as akin to the promise of nuclear power but the danger of atomic bombs.

He also cautioned against having a single civilisation or "too much co-operation" on Earth, saying it could "collapse" a society that is like a "tiny candle in a vast darkness".

And asked about the existence of aliens, Mr Musk had a firm response.

"The crazy thing is, I've seen no evidence of alien technology or alien life whatsoever. And I think I'd know because of SpaceX," he said.

"I don't think anybody knows more about space, you know, than me."