How Elon Musk Damaged Twitter and Left It Worse Off


SAN FRANCISCO — For years, Twitter was a runner-up social media company. It never grew to the size and scale of a Facebook or an Instagram. It simply muddled along.

Then, Elon Musk, a power user of the service, stormed in. He offered $44 billion to buy Twitter and declared that the company could perform far better if he were in charge. He disparaged Twitter’s executives, ridiculed its content policies, complained about the product and confused its more than 7,000 employees with his pronouncements. As Mr. Musk revealed the company’s lack of business and financial prospects, Twitter’s stock plunged more than 30 percent.

Now, as Mr. Musk, a billionaire, tries to back out of the blockbuster deal, he is inexorably leaving Twitter worse off than it was when he said he would buy it. With each needling tweet and public taunt, Mr. Musk has eroded trust in the social media company, walloped employee morale, spooked potential advertisers, emphasized its financial difficulties and spread misinformation about how Twitter operates.

“His engagement with Twitter took a severe toll on the company,” said Jason Goldman, a member of Twitter’s founding team who has also served on its…



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