People are so hungry for a singular genius who “think different,” that once someone is broadly accepted as a visionary, people will give them credit for ideas they didn’t have. A pile of innovator points awarded by nothing but perception gives them the advantage of support for any idea, no matter how stupid. Again if everyone saw the world like them, they wouldn’t be a visionary. But this chokes innovation.
Twitter is no startup; it is a 16-year-old company that IPOed over nine years ago and was taken private again via the seventh-largest acquisition of all time. Elon Musk’s behavior, however, is peak startup-bro. Only months into his tenure as Twitter’s owner, he stopped paying office rent and is considering not paying severance packages to former employees.
A charismatic figure can add a few trillion in economic value to a business. Steve Wozniak creating a microcomputer capable of being the Apple I appears predestined. Without Jobs, Wozniak probably would have been Linus Torvalds, a titan of computing who built a technology many rely on but few can name.
Forbes is the best in the business at monetizing frauds on the way up and later on the way down. Javice was the CEO of a startup called Frank that JPMorgan Chase acquired in large part because of the over 4 million users the company boasted. The best coverage of JPMorgan Chase’s lawsuit claiming Frank only had 300,000 real users and created 4.265 million fake customer records to satisfy due diligence is in Forbes.
It seems like I’ve been writing a lot about Elon Musk. Objectively I, and most other writers have been. I cannot speak for others, but for me Musk is just an object lesson in the bad part of startup land.
I’ve been around startups since I was a teenager. I’ve seen so many gallons of toxic startup BS. Musk embodies all of it, in a neatly name-recognizable package. But he’s just a repeating story of the same old nonsense.