By JON GAMBRELL
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Billionaire Elon Musk said Wednesday that he anticipates finding a CEO for Twitter “probably toward the end of this year.”
Speaking via a video call to the World Government Summit in Dubai, Musk said making sure the platform can function remained the most important thing for him.
“I think I need to stabilize the organization and just make sure it’s in a financial healthy place,” Musk said when asked about when he’d name a CEO. “I’m guessing probably toward the end of this year would be good timing to find someone else to run the company.”
Musk, 51, made his wealth initially on the finance website PayPal, then created the spacecraft company SpaceX and invested in the electric car company Tesla. In recent months, however, more attention has been focused on the chaos surrounding his $44 billion purchase of the microblogging site Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military’s use of Musk’s satellite internet service Starlink as it defends itself against Russia’s ongoing invasion has put Musk off and on at the center of the war.
Musk offered a wide-ranging 35-minute discussion that touched on the billionaire’s fears about artificial intelligence, the collapse of civilization and the possibility of space aliens. But questions about Twitter kept coming back up as Musk described both Tesla and SpaceX as able to function without his direct, day-to-day involvement.
“Twitter is still somewhat a startup in reverse,” he said. “There’s work required here to get Twitter to sort of a stable position and to really build the engine of software engineering.”
Musk also sought to portray his takeover of San Francisco-based Twitter as a cultural correction.
“I think that the general idea is just to reflect the values of the people as opposed to imposing the values of essentially San Francisco and Berkeley, which are so somewhat of a niche ideology as compared to the rest of the world,” he said. “And, you know, Twitter was, I think, doing a little too much to impose a niche.”
Musk’s takeover at Twitter has seen mass firings and other cost-cutting measures. Musk, who is on the hook for about $1 billion in yearly interest payments for his purchase, has been trying to find way to maximize profits at the company.
However, some of Musk’s decisions have conflicted with the reasons that journalists, governments and others rely on Twitter as an information-sharing platform.
Musk on Wednesday described the need for users to rely on Twitter for trusted information from verified accounts. However, a confused rollout to a paid verified account system saw some impersonate famous companies, leading to a further withdrawal of needed advertising cash to the site.
“Twitter is certainly quite the rollercoaster,” he acknowledged.
Forbes estimates Musk’s wealth at just under $200 billion. The Forbes analysis ranks Musk as the second-wealthiest person on Earth, just behind French luxury brand magnate Bernard Arnault.
But Musk also has become a thought leader for some as well, albeit an oracle that is trying to get six hours of sleep a night despite the challenges at Twitter.
Musk described his children as being “programmed by Reddit and YouTube.” However, he criticized the Chinese-made social media app TikTok.
“TikTok has a lot of very high usage (but) I often hear people say, ‘Well, I spent two hours on TikTok, but I regret those two hours,’” Musk said. “We don’t want that to be the case with Twitter.”
TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk warned that artificial intelligence should be regulated “very carefully,” describing it as akin to the promise of nuclear power but the danger of atomic bombs. He also cautioned against having a single civilization or “too much cooperation” on Earth, saying it could “collapse” a society that’s like a “tiny candle in a vast darkness.”
And when asked about the existence of aliens, Musk had a firm response.
“The crazy thing is, I’ve seen no evidence of alien technology or alien life whatsoever. And I think I’d know because of SpaceX,” he said. “I don’t think anybody knows more about space, you know, than me.”
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