Tech Pub Feature Image - Is Musk a Bust_ Scoring the CEO's Handling of X So Far

Evaluating Elon Musk’s Handling as CEO of X

From startups to billion-dollar enterprises, the C-suite operates under a microscope. Decisions are questioned, motives examined, and plays scrutinized. On a global scale, businesses take stock of public companies as a north star metric – learning from their wins and woes. Today, nobody is more divisive than the former CEO of X, Elon Musk.

Musk initially popped into public consciousness with PayPal – which provided the financial success that allowed Musk to develop Tesla and SpaceX. Though Musk is famous for being an innovative entrepreneur, sentiment began to shift after he acquired Twitter (known as X since late 2022). Musk has already made an audacious overhaul at the company – but his moves have been met with nearly unanimous criticism. 

Since assuming ownership, Musk instigated sweeping changes that include complete name rebrand, move from CEO to CTO, mass layoffs, and subscription model. Let’s review some of Musk’s stewardship at X, and we’ll examine whether they’ve been catalysts for transformation or impediments to success.

Musk As Visionary

A CEO is responsible for setting a clear and compelling vision for their company. However, shifting an established company to a completely new look and feel can be a real challenge. 

Musk changed the name of Twitter to X in an attempt to align with his vision for the platform to be seen as the “everything app”. Yet critics, ranging from average users to celebrities, have questioned Musk’s competence as a business leader as a result.  

Initially, people were confused about whether X would be a permanent name or just a temporary marketing stunt. Musk’s decision to get rid of the bird logo and the branded term “tweet” was also seen as a wipe-out of billions of dollars in brand value. 

Overall, the rebrand is criticized for creating an unnecessary business risk. At best, observers have credited his move as being smart in theory

Musk As Manager

Musk is an entrepreneurial leader because he has a knack for anticipating market trends, understanding customer needs, and formulating disruptive strategies.  

With bankruptcy a looming threat for the cash-strapped social media site, Musk focused immediately on optimizing employee productivity to improve business performance. 

Shortly after buying the company, Musk sent a midnight email to staff instructing them to commit to an “extremely hardcore” work culture. He gave an ultimatum that anyone who failed to meet his new standards would be laid off. 

Here’s a list of Musk’s workplace changes that have impacted X employees: 

  • Job cuts leading to an 80% reduction of staff 
  • A strict ban on remote work  
  • Slashes to commuter benefits and family planning 
  • The elimination of free office lunches 

Musk’s employee policy adjustments to boost profits, including demands for 80-hour weeks and assigning unnecessary tasks, have drawn criticism. Some have labeled him a corporate tyrant and argue that extreme measures could harm team morale and long-term business health. 

Musk as Tech Innovator

Musk has driven several groundbreaking technologies, pushing the boundaries of what’s conceivable. A prime example is Musk’s venture called Neuralink, which is an ambitious project attempting to enhance human cognitive ability by merging the brain with AI systems. And it naturally is raising questions about ethics and breaches of privacy. 

Undoubtedly, his candid and occasionally contentious business ideas have frequently resulted in heightened media scrutiny, stock market instability, and even disputes with regulatory bodies. Since taking the helm of X, Musk inherited issues with the product and has made drastic efforts to turn around the platform.  

He introduced a paid premium subscription service called X Premium (previously named Twitter Blue). According to a post on X by Musk, the platform is also launching a mandatory subscription model to allegedly tame automated spam bot accounts. 

Here are some other technical changes to the X platform that have made headlines: 

Musk calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” yet critics argue that his changes contradict his claim. The platform under his ownership has the highest rate of fake news and he has been urged by the European Union to comply with misinformation policies. 

In Brief 

Every decision Musk has made at X is highly scrutinized. As a CTO, the same can go for you professionally. Musk represents more than just another entrepreneur – he’s a pioneer many business leaders aspire to emulate, for better or for worse.

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Jena Hodgson

Jena is a seasoned expert in creating compelling B2B content who built her career at various tech startups, marketing agencies, and corporate enterprises. As a "digital trendsetter," she leverages her analytical and creative skills as a contributing writer for CTO Magazine where she reports on tech trends and innovations in the workplace.
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