Billionaire-entrepreneur Elon Musk acknowledged he has made mistakes on social media, in an at-times bizarre interview with the BBC overnight.
“Have I shot myself in the foot with tweets multiple times? Yes,” Musk said. “I think I should not tweet after 3 a.m.”
Revealing the scale of the job cuts at Twitter since Musk bought the company for $44 billion last October, Musk said around 1,500 people currently work for the social media platform, down from “just under 8,000,” after a series of what he described as “painful” layoffs.
Musk defended the job cuts, claiming they were necessary to stave off bankruptcy. “This is not a caring, uncaring situation. It’s like if the whole ship sinks then nobody’s got a job,” Musk said, claiming that he had been “under constant attack” since buying Twitter.
The “pain level has been extremely high” since buying Twitter, Musk said. “Were there many mistakes made a long the way? Of course. But all’s well that ends well, I feel like we’re headed to a good place.”
The billionaire defended Twitter’s move to phase out its previous system of verifying notable accounts and personalities with a blue tick, and introduce a system where any user can pay for the tick instead. Several news organizations, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, have said they would not pay to keep their blue ticks.
“It’s a small amount of money, so I don’t know what their problem is,” Musk said. “We’re going to treat everyone equally.”
He said legacy blue ticks would disappear next week.
Asked whether he would sell Twitter for the same amount he paid for it, Musk said he wouldn’t — unless the buyer was as committed to telling the truth as he claimed to be. Last month, Musk said he thought the company was now worth $20 billion.
The live interview took place in Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, and the BBC was given “about 20 minutes’ notice” that it would be going ahead, according to the British public broadcaster. Asked why he had agreed to sit down with the BBC, Musk said: “Spontaneity.”
Addressing a row over the decision by Twitter to label the BBC’s Twitter accounted as “government-funded media,” Musk said the tag would be updated. “I actually do have a lot of respect for the BBC,” Musk said. “We want it as truthful and accurate as possible — we’re adjusting the label to ‘publicly funded.'”
The interview took some strange turns, with Musk at one point saying he was “no longer the CEO of Twitter” and repeating his claim that his dog had replaced him in the top job.
The interview went for longer than expected, with James Clayton, the BBC journalist interviewing Musk, attempting to end the discussion on several occasions, but the entrepreneur insisting on answering questions from users on Twitter Spaces.