By Clare Duffy, CNN
Elon Musk may soon be on the lookout for a new chief executive to run Twitter.
After mounting criticism of his chaotic leadership at Twitter, including recent decisions to suspend tech journalists and introduce (and then delete) a controversial policy banning linking out to rival platforms, Musk posted a poll asking whether he should step down as CEO. The poll ended Monday morning with 57% of voters in favor of Musk handing off the top job.
Musk has not commented on the results of the poll. In fact, Musk went an uncharacteristically long time on Monday without tweeting at all. But even if Musk doesn’t immediately honor his own poll, the Tesla CEO will likely only continue to face pressure from the carmaker’s investors to hand the reins to someone else sooner than later. Tesla stock is down 34% since his deal to buy Twitter closed and more than 63% since the start of this year, as investors worry about his many competing priorities. (Musk has also for years mused about finding a successor to run Tesla, with no obvious progress.)
Musk, for his part, said in a tweet Sunday before the poll had closed: “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor.”
If Musk were to look for a new Twitter CEO, he’d likely have many willing takers. Already, the list of people who have offered to run the platform includes former T-Mobile CEO John Legere, MIT artificial intelligence researcher Lex Fridman and rapper Snoop Dogg (who could perhaps run Twitter with the help of his friend and entertainment personality Martha Stewart). Tom Anderson, a founder of MySpace, also commented on Musk’s poll about stepping down from CEO, saying, “depends on who you get to run it,” with a thinking-face emoji.
There are also some highly qualified candidates out there — such as former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and CTO Mike Schroepfer, who both left their roles at the social media giant earlier this year — although convincing them to take on the chaos machine that is Twitter could be difficult. Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder, CEO of Block and friend to Musk, has previously said he would not return to run the social network.
The most obvious potential candidates for a new Twitter CEO are the Musk lieutenants who have been helping to run the company since his takeover. The short list likely includes investor Jason Calacanis, Craft Ventures partner David Sacks and Sriram Krishnan, an Andreessen Horowitz general partner focused on crypto and Twitter’s former consumer teams lead.
If Musk does pick someone else, it might allow him to hand over some of the day-to-day responsibility, and accountability, of running Twitter. But one thing would almost certainly not change: Musk remains very much in charge. Musk pushed out the company’s former leadership and board of directors, and as the company’s owner and sole board director, he will ultimately have the power to hire and fire whoever he wants at the company’s helm.
Calacanis, who emerged in the tech world as a reporter during the dot com boom, is an early-stage investor who has backed well-known companies such as Uber and Robinhood. He has also launched several media properties and hosts two podcasts (one in partnership with Sacks).
Calacanis tweeted on Sunday night asking, “Who would like the most miserable job in tech AND media?! Who is insane enough to run twitter?!?!” Calacanis also ran his own Twitter poll asking followers whether he or Sacks should run the company, separately or together, or whether someone else should take over. The majority of respondents voted for “other.”
In April, shortly after Musk offered to buy Twitter, Calacanis told the billionaire in a text message that “Twitter CEO is my dream job.”
Sacks, who along with Musk was among the original founding team at PayPal, has at least some experience managing a social network. He founded and ran enterprise communications platform Yammer, before selling it to Microsoft in 2012 for $1.2 billion.
Sacks has been particularly unflinching in echoing Musks’ talking points, whether it’s justifying a feud with Apple or attempting to stir up outrage about a Twitter account that posted publicly available information about the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet. A Twitter user asked Sacks last month what he and Musk disagree about, and Sacks responded with just one thing: “Chess.”
On paper, Krishnan may be the most obvious choice of the group. He has direct experience working on the Twitter product, having previously helped manage the teams responsible for features of the platform such as search and the home timeline. He also previously worked on mobile ad products for Snap and Facebook.
More recently, he has invested in crypto startups at Andreessen Horowitz, which could give him experience helpful to fulfill Musk’s goal of building payment capabilities for Twitter and making it more than just a social media app.
Krishnan is arguably the least well-known — and therefore perhaps the least controversial — of Musk’s current Twitter leadership team, which could help deflect some of the recent negative attention the company has received.
Some Twitter users have speculated about other possible leaders for the social media company, including Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was spotted watching the World Cup with Musk over the weekend.
Kushner is friendly with the Saudi Royal Family, one of Twitter’s largest investors. Prior to working as an advisor in Trump’s White House, Kushner worked for his family’s real estate development company, and last year he said he would leave politics and start an investment firm. Kushner also previously owned the weekly New York newspaper, the New York Observer.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.