Why Jack Dorsey thought Elon Musk could fix Twitter

Why Jack Dorsey thought Elon Musk could fix Twitter

Of the many bizarre moments that preceded Twitter’s change in ownership, one that’s always stuck out to me was Jack Dorsey’s tweetstorm that “Elon is the singular solution I trust.” His insistence that Musk was uniquely positioned to “extend the light of consciousness” was a strange endorsement, even by Dorsey’s usual weird-guy standards. But Dorsey had long idolized Musk and the two men had a relationship that was far deeper than what many onlookers realized.

That’s according to a new book that explores Jack Dorsey’s role in Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. Written by Bloomberg reporter Kurt Wagner, Battle for the Bird tells the story of how Dorsey saved Twitter in 2015 and how his actions – or often, lack thereof— led to Musk’s acquisition and, ultimately, Twitter’s death.

Wagner’s isn’t the first book to delve into the tumultuous events of the last two years — Musk biographer Walter Isaacson had a front-row seat to the drama — but Battle for the Bird sheds new light on Dorsey’s side of the equation. “Jack had been bringing Elon to Twitter offsites, he’d visited him at his SpaceX launch facility, the two of them sort of had this relationship that I don’t really think people paid much attention to,” Wagner tells Engadget. So once Musk began acquiring a large stake in the company, “Jack sort of stepped in and did what he could” to make the deal happen.

The book, which began as a Dorsey biography before Musk’s takeover forced Wagner to change his plans, focuses on the enigmatic Twitter co-founder whose unusual management style sometimes worked against the company’s own interests.

Inside of Twitter, Wagner writes, Dorsey was known to “rarely speak” in meetings and disliked making decisions. Internally, this was a source of confusion as executives often had to guess what Dorsey was thinking about a particular issue. “People would be surprised at how little he was directing [Twitter and Square], he was really advising them in a weird way,” Wagner says.

These dynamics played out in Twitter’s product. Wagner reports that Dorsey had initially encouraged the product team to create the feature that was eventually known as “Fleets,” Twitter’s experiment with disappearing posts. But Dorsey “grew to despise” the feature and publicly cheered when the company killed it less than a year after its rollout. “Even though he thought Fleets was a bad decision, he never stepped in to halt the product or move the team in another direction,” Wagner writes.

Battle for the Bird also details Dorsey’s many eccentricities: the days-long silent meditation retreats, his affinity for “salt juice” (a mixture of water, pink Himalayan sea salt and lemon juice) and his more recent obsession with bitcoin. “He goes through these stages of his life where he’s different, he looks different, he acts different, his priorities are different and I think it’s sort of a reflection of the things that he becomes obsessed with,” Wagner says.

Giving Musk a more influential role at Twitter was another idea Dorsey fixated on. He tried to get Musk a seat on the company’s board in 2020 amid a bruising fight with activist investor Elliott Management. Dorsey managed to keep his job but failed to get Musk a board seat because, according to what he told Musk, the rest of the board were “super risk averse.” (By 2020, Musk had already faced at least two major lawsuits over his tweets.)

Dorsey would also tell Musk that the board’s veto was “about the time I decided I needed to work to leave” the company. He had always seemed disinterested in the business of running Twitter, but the troubles with Elliott seemed to change him. “He thought that Twitter served this bigger purpose … its place in the world was not to make money for shareholders,” Wagner explains. “And as a result, he was just not really that interested in playing the Wall Street game, which is a problem when you’re a publicly traded company.”

So in 2022, after he had stepped down as CEO, Dorsey encouraged Musk to use his new position as a major stakeholder in Twitter to address Twitter’s “original sin” of existing as a corporate entity beholden to advertisers and political interests. Dorsey believed that Musk loved Twitter for the same reasons he did. So when Musk decided to buy the company and take it private, he backed Musk.

Dorsey publicly endorsed the move and promised to roll over his Twitter shares into the new entity, effectively saving Musk about $1 billion. He, along with the rest of the company’s board, voted to approve the deal.

As Wagner points out in Battle for the Bird, Dorsey eventually soured on Musk after he tried to back out of the deal, saying “it all went south.” But by then, Jack Dorsey’s Twitter was already unrecognizable. “He so publicly endorsed this new idea, this takeover from Elon,” Wagner says. “And as a result, the company that he co-founded and led for almost 16 years in various ways, is no more. X is here, but Twitter is gone. His legacy has really been hurt by this whole debacle.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/why-jack-dorsey-thought-elon-musk-could-fix-twitter-140004514.html?src=rss

By John Routledge

Founder and owner of Technoshia.com - I'm an avid tech junkie, a lover of new gadgets and home automation. You will often find me reading, writing, and learning about new technologies. I've been featured in many leading technology magazines where I've written about my favorite topics.