The richest man on the planet is gone. The tireless home run hitter hit a wall. The decadent industry’s chief wrestler has broken his teeth. Elon Musk, for whom everything seemed to work out so far, stole the show in 2022 for a very simple reason: He seems to have found the shortest path between hero status and zero.
Musk is nowhere near a turnaround and could certainly return in the coming months. The headliner more than ever in recent weeks has defied the odds more than once since founding, in 1995, with his brother Kimbal, software company Zip2. Another reversal of fortunes would be dramatic, but not impossible.
In fact, we still don’t know if he will succeed in reviving Twitter in a sustainable way. Musk spent 44 billion US dollars, somewhat in spite of himself, to acquire and then privatize the Californian social network. To complicate matters, Twitter lost half of its stock market value between April and October, the time it took to close the transaction.
Since then, his valuation, with a large margin of around 300 million subscribers, has fallen. Musk contributed to this by tweeting untruths, arbitrarily banning certain users and content, and then screwing over advertisers, the source of 90% of Twitter’s revenue. And now, after a poll he himself launched a week before Christmas, Musk finally decided that he would give the position of CEO of Twitter to someone “crazier” than him, whom he has yet to find.
Despite everything, it does not appear to affect the billionaire’s purported strategy, which hopes to quintuple Twitter’s revenue by 2028 and before then reduce the advertising share to 50% of income. This will require converting users to subscribers willing to pay $8 or more per month for better network access. A puzzle similar to that of many digital media, which almost always leads to flight for a large majority of the audience.
2022 in the stars
The year 2022 began as a foreboding for the billionaire and big boss of SpaceX and Tesla, two prominent companies in sectors undergoing major technological transformation. The electric car maker’s stock market crash in January cut 10% from the value of Elon Musk’s portfolio. It was the start of a long downward spiral that has cost Tesla two-thirds of its capital to date.
By comparison, the downward movement in the tech and auto markets erased a third of their value in 2022.
This disappointment did not affect the aura of Musk at this time. Already in March, thanks to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine launched at the end of February, SpaceX obtained a unique opportunity to showcase its brand new Starlink satellite internet service.
Tested by Russian jamming, Starlink has become popular with the Ukrainian military, proof that technology can sometimes serve the widow and the orphan … but not at any cost. SpaceX says it has funded 70% of its presence in Ukraine, also supported by Washington.
This fall, Musk thanked the US government by reactivating former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, ten days after urging voters to vote for the Republican opposition in the midterm elections. Without too much success there either…