Looks like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, possible new king of Twitter, really has it out for one of the company’s top lawyers.
He’s insulted her online twice in as many days — even though the purchase contract for his buyout of the social media platform says he’s technically not allowed to disparage Twitter.
The billionaire CEO seems to particularly have it out for Vijaya Gadde, a chief legal officer at Twitter, over her role in blocking unfavorable coverage of Hunter Biden — the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden — on the platform prior to the election.
Musk said on Tuesday that her choice was “obviously incredibly inappropriate,” prompting some to ask why he was breaking his contractual obligation to not disparage Twitter.
On Wednesday, Musk posted a meme that targeted Gadde, seeming to allege that she’s either not capable of logic or is deliberately misleading viewers.
In short, it’s a pair of incendiary and insulting pieces of commentary that have led some to wonder why he’s lashing out at the people running his latest acquisition.
The outbursts earned swift rebuke.
“You’re making an executive at the company you just bought the target of harassment and threats,” one twitter user said in response.
what's going on? You're making an executive at the company you just bought the target of harassment and threats.
— dick costolo (@dickc) April 27, 2022
Kara Swisher, famed journalist and popular podcast host, shared her own theory as to why Musk is breaking rules and insulting a Twitter employee.
“He’s trying to goad people into leaving and it’s an odious way of doing it,” Swisher argued. “Speaking of which, you can be sure to keep up with the payments he needs to make, there will have to be significant layoffs at twitter. He’d rather they quit, than pay them out.”
What’s going on: He’s trying to goad people into leaving and it’s an odious way of doing it. Speaking of which, you can be sure to keep up with the payments he needs to make, there will have to be significant layoffs at twitter. He’d rather they quit, than pay them out. https://t.co/QiRCt2MVmc
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) April 27, 2022
Swisher’s tweet seems to call out the way Musk financed his newest purchase. Musk will likely have to leverage some of his Tesla shares to come up with the $4 billion — news which has caused Tesla’s stock price to plummet.
That reality could also put the entire purchase on thin ice. If the electric car maker drops enough in stock price, Musk might choose not go through with the sale at all.
It could also be read as a warning about the future of free speech on the platform. Musk’s aggression towards Gadde could be an attempt to make her leave, thereby increasing the likelihood Twitter sees and allows more hate speech — something the company has been fighting with various degrees of success for several years.
Musk’s remarks on free speech during the proposed sale have been met with derision by experts.
“For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral,” he tweeted on Wednesday, “which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally.”
If the Twitter attacks on Gadde aren’t part of a scheme to get out of the contract, it’s weird to think Musk has it out for a person he likely rarely, if ever, will come into contact with.
Then again, Musk seems to relish public drama and attention. We may have to wait for final sale details to know why he’s lobbing so many insults this week — that is, if we ever get an answer.
More on the Twitter deal: Elon Musk Reportedly In Final Stages of Deal to Buy Twitter