Business & EconomyHarvard leadership expert Bill George says Elon Musk does not understand social...

Harvard leadership expert Bill George says Elon Musk does not understand social media

Bill George, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School, leadership author, and former CEO says that Twitter owner Elon Musk does not understand social media.

“If you had to write a case study on an example of a really poor takeover of an organization, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter would fit that perfectly well,” George tells CNBC Make It. “I don’t think he understands social media, he added.”

Bill George on Elon Musk

Many companies have stopped advertising on the platform as a result of Musk’s changes, and the company’s cash flow is negative as a result of a nearly 50% decline in advertising and “heavy debt,” according to Musk’s post earlier this month. George, who has studied effective leadership and leadership failures over the past 20 years, calls Musk’s changes a “big mistake.”

“Elon is a brilliant, brilliant guy,” Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett said at his company’s annual meeting in May. “He dreams about things, and his dreams have got a foundation.”

Broadly, George agrees: “I have to say, he did a brilliant job in creating Tesla. And he’s done a lot of good things [at SpaceX] too.”

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Bill George observes that both firms work in the fields of engineering, manufacturing, and physics. The management of a social media company, however, might call for a high level of interpersonal abilities, something Musk’s own brother claims, he lacks.

Musk “turned off a lot of users by opening [them] up to a lot of blunt racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ+ [rhetoric],” according to George, when he lowered the platform’s content control rules.

Additionally, Musk’s decision to shift X to a “everything app” without providing a clearer strategy for the future of the rebranded social media company may come seen as hasty and illogical. According to George, this may alienate people and make them question if continuing to be involved is worthwhile.

What Bill George advises

George’s advise is for Musk to take a step back from this company’s business operations and let CEO Linda Yaccarino take over in a more visible manner.

“Now, that he has the [new] CEO of Twitter, he needs to let her restore what Twitter was, so [users and] advertisers come back,” George says.

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