Elon Musk’s ‘goblin mode’ mayhem style is here to stay


At the end of his week-long Twitter adventure – buying 9% of the company’s stock, sitting on its board and then quitting – Elon Musk posted a meme reading: “In all honesty, your honor, my client was in goblin mode.” Then he deleted it.

  • Goblin Mode apparently means “I don’t care what other people think of my appearance or what I say anymore.”
  • Don’t blame meMusk seemed to say. I just put you.

Why is this important: Musk may just be a rich, crazy guy who likes to troll trickster, but the maniacal style of business disruption he pioneered is likely to be in the tech industry for a long time.

  • That’s because Musk’s tactics are going to be irresistible to his legions of fans and imitators in the business world and a new generation of investors trained in his playbook.

“Activist Investor” used to mean someone who starts buying shares in a company in order to force it to change the way it operates.

  • That would include the folks at Elliott Management, which took to Twitter in 2020 and ousted its CEO, Jack Dorsey, the following year.
  • It’s a tough business that involves shareholder meetings, proxy contests and other complex corporate processes often handled by lawyers.
  • Most of these investors aim to eliminate what they see as costly and self-indulgent distractions so that the company can start generating more profits for the owners/shareholders again.

Musk seems to find it all boring. His idea of ​​activist investing is to roast company management in public (ideally, on their own social media platform) while frequently changing one’s own course.

  • The strength of this method is that it grabs attention, hooks people into an unpredictable narrative, and makes Musk himself (at least to fans) look like a rule breaker.

The big picture: This approach has powerful appeal in the technology market.

  • It appeals to investors weaned on equities even…
  • and startup founders looking to stand out…
  • and crypto enthusiasts trying to organize their businesses and projects on Discord and govern them via DAOs.

Our thought bubble: Not everyone has Musk’s 80 million followers or billions of dollars. But anyone can put on a show!

The bottom line: Nobody knows what Musk will do next, probably not even Musk himself. He could always try a hostile takeover of Twitter, or he could walk away. Whatever he does, it won’t happen quietly.

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