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Twitter goes to Elon Musk; Who is he?

Musk gave a statement with a short list of goals for the platform, many of which he has recently floated to his 83 million followers on Twitter.

After months of publicly toying with the idea, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, successfully negotiated a deal to buy the social media platform for $44 billion.

On Monday, Musk gave a statement with a short list of goals for the platform, many of which he has recently floated to his 83 million followers on Twitter.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he tweeted.

“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans,” Musk’s Tweet said.

Twitter’s deal with Musk has fueled speculation about what this could mean for the social media site’s future. The sale initially seemed unlikely, but Twitter’s board then reportedly began to take the offer more seriously after Musk revealed more details about how he would finance the potential.

Like other Twitter users, Musk hasn’t been shy about sharing thoughts on what needs to be fixed on the site, tweeting his frank remarks to his 83 million followers. Those tweets provide insight into his love-hate relationship with Twitter.

This means that the world’s richest person who has a penchant for theatrics and erratic behavior is about to have the power to reshape discourse on a social network used by more than 200 million people every day.

Now the question arises, who is Elon Musk?

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist” is a South African-born American industrial engineer, and entrepreneur who co-founded Paypal and founded aerospace transportation services company SpaceX.

He is also one of the early investors in Tesla, an electric car company, and now the Chief Executive Officer of the firm as well. Born in 1971, Elon Musk displayed an early talent in computers and video games and at the age of 12 created a video game code that earned him fame, as well as a fortune.

He acquired a Canadian passport to avoid supporting apartheid in Africa at the time and also due to greater economic opportunities in the United States.

His astounding success has given rise to comparisons to other visionary businessmen, such as Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates. Musk developed a relentless work ethic (he is known to work as many as 80 to 120 hours per week) and a tenacious, single-minded vision.

A multimillionaire, Musk became the richest person in the world in January 2021, with an estimated net worth of $185 billion at the time, surpassing Jeff Bezos.

In 1995, with $28,000 and his younger brother Kimbal at his side, Musk started Zip2, a web software company that would help newspapers develop online city guides. In 1999, Zip2 was acquired by Compaq’s AltaVista web search engine for a whopping $340 million.

Musk used his Zip2 buyout money to create X.com, which he intended to shape into the future of banking.

In Tesla, in 2007, Musk seized management control as CEO and product architect. Under his watch, Tesla has become one of the world’s most popular and coveted car brands.

Musk used much of the proceeds of his PayPal sale to found Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, commonly known as SpaceX, an interstellar travel company. By his own account, Musk spent $100 million to found SpaceX in 2002.

Musk has been vocal about his plans to send an astronaut to Mars by 2025 in a collaborative effort with NASA.

First Published: 26th April, 2022 16:19 IST

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