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A Not-So-Serious Look at Who Might Succeed Elon Musk

Written by Kevin TruongPublished Dec. 21, 2022 • 6:30pm
A man dressed up as Argentille, a “fox demon,” visits Twitter HQ on Market Street in San Francisco from the “underworld to see if there are any evil souls around" on Nov. 18, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

English

After a roughly two-month tenure atop Twitter that could be generously described as “eventful” and ungenerously described as an “unmitigated disaster,” Chief Twit Elon Musk asked the public whether he should continue on as the social media company’s CEO.

Most respondents voted in favor of giving him the boot and Musk tweeted Tuesday that he would resign “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” He said he still plans to “run the software & servers teams” even after handing over the reins, although no one is particularly sure what that means. 

In a Twitter Spaces livestream Tuesday night, Musk described Twitter as a “plane that is headed toward the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work.” So we asked the salient question: Who wouldn’t want to jump in the pilot’s seat at that point? 

Based on reading the tea leaves and a fair amount of rampant speculation, The Standard has put together a list of potential candidates for Twitter’s top job. 

The ‘Why the F Not?’ Options

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and the Twitter logo are seen in this photo illustration. | Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump

After conducting a public poll, Musk reinstated the former president’s Twitter account last month, along with more than 59,000 of his tweets. Trump, who was initially banned from Twitter in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, has thus far stuck to his promise that he wouldn’t return to the platform. 

But Truth Social doesn’t have nearly the reach of Twitter and with growing pushback from Republican leadership to his 2024 presidential bid, Trump might be looking for a boost. 

While most Americans have probably enjoyed a break from sheer terror that came from checking to see the latest unhinged missive from the former commander in chief, there’s no question it would juice engagement. 

Wario Elon Musk

For those who are unsteeped in Nintendo character lore, Wario was introduced as an anti-hero counterpart to happy-go-lucky Italian plumber, Mario. The general idea was that he would be an opposite, a Bluto to Mario’s Popeye or a Bizarro to Mario’s Superman.

Considering how Musk has run the company in recent months, a 180-degree-turn in direction might be just what the doctor ordered. Who knows? A new hat and a devious fake mustache might also help.

A photo composite of comedian Dave Chapelle (left) and Twitter CEO Elon Musk | Getty Images

Dave Chappelle 

In what might be one of the strangest team-ups since Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes collaborated on a pop version of the Christmas classic “Little Drummer Boy,” comedian Dave Chappelle brought Elon Musk onstage during a Chase Center show earlier this month. Musk’s cameo was met with a hail of boos.

It’s clear that the duo have a friendly relationship and a few key things in common, including an unrelenting commitment to their own personal definition of free speech and an insatiable appetite for trolling.  

Snoop Dog

The legendary rapper threw his hat in the ring with his own public poll, which asked: “Should I run Twitter?” People seemed amenable to the proposition—81% of respondents voted in favor of the idea. That’s evidence of one of two things: Either the “Gin and Juice” artist should add Twitter CEO to his multi-hyphenate job description or that unscientific public straw polls shouldn’t be the foundation of major business decisions.

Nathan Fielder | FilmMagic via Getty Images

Nathan Fielder

OK, hear me out. We know that Musk is bit of a Nathan Fielder fanboi, at least according to The New York Times, who reported that Musk has invited the Nathan for You star to his parties and tried to make him laugh.

What would be better than taking a behind-the-scenes look at Twitter with a deadpan and dead-eyed Canadian as your guide? Plus, with the first season of The Rehearsal in the books, this is a ready-made plot line for Season 2.

The Slightly More Serious Contenders

Jack Dorsey | Marco Bello AFP via Getty Images

Jack Dorsey

The two-time former CEO of Twitter has stayed mostly quiet on Musk’s leadership of Twitter, other than occasionally expressing remorse for the wide-scale layoffs at the company and his thoughts on the #TwitterFiles disclosures.

Dorsey, who himself was pushed out of the company by its board of directors before eventually returning in 2015, was hailed as a company savior. Could the third time be the charm? Dorsey has been upfront with his belief that it was a major mistake to take the company public and cede control to Wall Street over Twitter’s vision and strategy. 

But his decision to pass over leadership of the company to Parag Agrawal (who Musk summarily fired) as well as his seemingly single-minded focus on Bitcoin and decentralized finance are an indication that he might not be the most committed person for the job.

Sriram Krishnan

The betting markets have listed Sriram Krishnan as the odds-on favorite to eventually take over for Musk. The logic for elevating the Andreessen Horowitz investor to the position is pretty sound. He has previously worked on the product teams of a number of social media companies, including Twitter, Snap and Facebook.

Plus, he’s already in the building as part of Musk’s brain trust to help manage the company in its transition to Twitter 2.0. Krishnan’s experience in the crypto industry is also valuable to Musk’s stated goal of introducing payments capabilities to the platform. And after weeks of the company courting constant headlines, there’s something to be said about having someone a little less controversial in Twitter’s top job.

Jason Calacanis (left) and David Sacks (right) in Austin, Texas | Earl McGehee via Getty Images

David Sacks and/or Jason Calacanis

Two of the most visible members of Musk’s Twitter 2.0 war room are investor Jason Calacanis and David Sacks, the former CEO and founder of Yammer and a member of the Paypal Mafia that includes Musk and Peter Thiel. Both have been incredibly active on Twitter as some of Musk’s most ardent defenders, promoting his agenda and echoing allegations about censorship and hypocrisy under Twitter’s previous regime. 

To be sure, the two have a strong track record in the tech industry with Sacks successfully starting and selling a number of companies and Calacanis investing in companies like Robinhood, Uber and Calm.

Calcanis, who identified the role of Twitter CEO as his “dream job” in private text messages to Musk, seems to be seriously angling for the position. He recently put out his own public poll asking who should be appointed as Twitter’s next CEO. The option “Other” beat out him, Sacks or the choice of Sacks and Calacanis as co-CEOs.

Sarah Friar

One of the most well-regarded technology executives in Silicon Valley, Friar previously led finance operations at Square before joining San Francisco-based neighborhood-focused social media company Nextdoor as its first external CEO.

The resume makes sense for someone to orchestrate a Twitter turnaround, and her candidacy has even been floated in the Financial Times. But what exactly would it take for a talented tech executive to leave her current position for the public chaos that continually engulfs Twitter, with no particular expectation of success? 

English

Kevin Truong can be reached at [email protected]


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