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.