Elon Musk says he will install a Neuralink computer chip in his brain once they become available. Lex believes a version of brain-computer interface already exists for the tech entrepreneur via his tweets. The daily stream of jokes and company updates offer an insight into his shifting priorities. Twitter, his most recent acquisition, appears to be taking up more of his time than ever.
This week, Musk has tweeted about Twitter 55 times, Tesla 14 times and SpaceX twice. A similar breakdown occurred the previous month, shortly after the Twitter acquisition was made. Compare that with late June, just before Musk attempted to abandon his Twitter bid. Then he tweeted about Twitter eight times, Tesla 15 times and SpaceX 12 times.
Musk uses his Twitter account as a source of free advertising for his companies. From the moment he made a bid for Twitter, investors in Tesla worried about their chief executive’s already stretched attention. Musk attempted to soothe those worries in May by claiming he spent less than 5 per cent of his time on the proposed Twitter acquisition. Tesla, he said, was on his mind 24/7. Investors were unconvinced. Since Musk’s Twitter bid was announced in April, Tesla’s share price has fallen 43 per cent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index is down 16 per cent over the same period.
Tesla is a $610bn company. SpaceX, which is private, was last valued at $125bn. Twitter was purchased for $44bn. Yet it requires disproportionate attention. Musk’s acquisition saddled it with $13bn of debt and the company last reported annual profit in 2019. Most of its revenue comes from advertisers, a group that has reduced spending following concerns about content moderation. Without further cost cuts or a large source of new revenue such as payments, interest costs may exceed free cash flow in 2023.
Musk is an impressive multi-tasker. But investors in Tesla should remain wary of Twitter’s ability to monopolise his attention.