Elon Musk: Behind the Billionaire’s Mask

By Ethan Wise

Elon Musk’s name has been on everyone’s lips recently, and not every word is good. Elon Musk is a 51-year-old entrepreneur and billionaire who has been in the game since 1995, when he founded Zip2, a software company. Since then, he has established PayPal, Tesla, the Boring Company, and SpaceX, all well-known and respected companies.  

His most recent acquisition was the purchase of Twitter, the social media app, for 44 billion dollars. His first decision was to fire half of the company’s staff, about 7,500 people. His decisions afterward came with significant changes. He implemented a paid subscription, Twitter Blue, to be verified on the app for eight dollars a month, authenticating businesses and influential people. Musk instituted the paid subscription with an application programming interface called API. API helps Twitter users to make daily posts automatically, used by gimmick accounts, like user @GatorDaily, which posts alligators daily.  

Elon Musk, serial entrepreneur, at TED2013: The Young, The Wise, The Undiscovered. Wednesday, February 27, 2013, Long Beach, CA. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

According to CNN, he unbanned several accounts, such as the Babylon Bee, Jordan Peterson, and former President Donald Trump, all very divisive right-leaning figures. 

Musk’s most recent decision was to utilize two-factor authentication, a security feature to protect users’ accounts, behind a paywall. Since Musk bought the company, Twitter servers have become more unstable since the acquisition. I use the app, and you can see that tweets do not load, videos without audio, and general slowdowns and outages. Musk’s previous endeavors have been looked upon more critically from all these poor decisions and odd behavior.  

Since 2013, Musk has talked about making a “hyperloop” as a new method of transportation, a joint effort of Tesla, SpaceX, and the Boring Company. A hyperloop comprises three things; a long-sealed tube with a low-pressure system, a pod running along the tube with low air resistance launched by magnets, and the terminals for receiving and dispatching pods. The hyperloop can revolutionize travel. A nine-hour bus ride would become a minute-long journey. A package would arrive at its destination in a fraction of the time.  

Sounds too good to be true because it is. Musk has forgotten about the project in its original version. He has since focused on the Vegas Loop, a series of tunnels and terminals made by Boring Company under the Vegas Convention Center, used as an alternative to current transportation with his Tesla models. A CNET YouTube video, My first ride in the Boring Tunnel Loop in Las Vegas, provides an in-depth look at the system. The tunnels for the car are only wide enough for a Tesla, providing no room for fire or ambulances. There are no walkways for maintenance workers like the NYC subway. The car travels barely above the speed limit, which is not the promise made by Musk. It is just an unsafe one-way taxi.  

Musk’s other company, Tesla, has been doing poorly recently. According to Forbes, Tesla Recalls Over 360,000 Cars Due to Self-Driving Crash Risk; this mass recall began with an error in the self-driving software, a highly controversial topic. There are several videos of Tesla’s self-driving system making critical errors, such as speeding and stopping randomly, aiming at pedestrians, and not slowing down. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating the safety of Tesla’s cars and their self-driving features for years.  

Even though Tesla was one of the first companies to make electric vehicles, they have a spotty record of accomplishment with safety. Tesla was also heavily criticized for car fires because of battery issues. According to tesla-fire.com, there have been 182 cases of Tesla car fires, 53 instances with fatalities.  

With all these issues, Elon Musk has revealed his true self. With his purchase of Twitter, his tweets exposed problems with the company and what he is doing to fix them. Twitter software engineers have responded to these tweets and said that Musk does not have solutions to improve the company. Recently, Musk made fun of a disabled employee, asking if he were still employed at Twitter because he could not get an answer within the company.  

Musk’s jokes about his employees have continued as of March 10th. Only days later did he apologize, according to CNBC. He might be known as the co-founder of Tesla, but he was only an investor and got the co-founder title because of a lawsuit. His first company Zip2 was bought out years after its debut. For PayPal, Musk was replaced as CEO of the company before it was called PayPal. In 2018, Musk pulled a big stunt, launching one of his cars into space. Elon Musk has so much power with his money and assets and needs more intelligence to do something worthwhile. 

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