A while back, we wrote that Elon’s business model is really all about getting people to talk about Elon. And that model continues to work. Tesla’s stock price started the year at $108, it is now $255. SpaceX also seems to be moving up and to the right. In other words, Elon has perfected the art and business of being ‘remarkable.’
To be clear, Elon has done a lot of damage to ‘brand Elon’ over the last year, but it’s all still pretty compelling, and no one can argue with his brilliance. Even if it seems that his EQ is trending downward.
Seth Godin once made an interesting observation about the 90’s, sharing that a lot of big media execs assumed that the future of their business would be a lot like the status quo, “only shinier.” They turned out to be very wrong.
Status Quo Bias dominates a lot of thinking, with the biggest recent example being the media’s reaction to Twitter’s rebranding to X. Something the entire Twittersphere (“X-sphere”?) seems to be smitten with.
When Elon bought Twitter last year, the conversation seemed to center around whether or not this new Twitter would be better managed than the old one – with relatively little emphasis on possible future plans.
Of course, letting Twitter carry on as before with only minor tweaks was never his intention. He even admitted it.
His real ambition was less about “fixing” Twitter and more about building “The one app to rule them all,” not unlike WeChat in China. Rather than build a user base from scratch, he reckoned it would be easier to build one on the back of a pre existing platform, much like Meta’s recent move to build Threads on the back of Instagram.
The overspending was never an issue though (he has fewer cash constraints than most). What he has just as little of as everyone else is time. Similar to what Napoleon famously said: “I can always win back lost territory. A single second, never.”
Perhaps all this current online palaver is just the result of the fact that Elon was playing chess the whole time, while we mere mortals were playing checkers.
But what we think is even more likely was that the commentariat was afflicted with what usually ails it: A big ol’ dose of the aforementioned Status Quo Bias, which allowed this sudden X-news to take us all by surprise, despite it technically being old news. Plus ca change.
No matter what the master plan might be, the one thing we know is that the business model will not change. A big chunk of Elon’s net worth is tied up in keeping him on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
He is waging memetic warfare on the markets. It just might be his super power.