With high-flying plans and a lot of drive, Elon Musk has earned a reputation as a visionary and long-term strategist. This image had been damaged for a long time. And finally became a farce through the Twitter takeover.

Jack of all trades: This rather outdated word would have been used to describe someone like Elon Musk. Whether it was the way to Mars, the road traffic revolution, the reinvention of the Internet or the rescue of children trapped in a flooded cave: the energetic billionaire dared to do everything. And many people followed him in this belief. At least since he took over Twitter two weeks ago, that should be over.

Because no matter how you look at the takeover, it remains a chaotic disaster. Within a very short time, Musk fired half of the workforce and then had to ask some of them back. He announced a subscription for 20 euros, but then even talked to horror icon Stephen King down to eight euros (find out more here). And he wanted to replace the verification of accounts with the subscription, but then introduced a second verification. Only to have them deleted hours later. Instead of a plan or an idea, there is pure helplessness. With the users, the observers, the shareholders – and apparently also with Musk himself.

Spontaneous purchase and quick regret

The purchase alone was a classic crazy idea. Well drunk with the idea of ​​being able to give the world total freedom of expression, Musk happily announced the purchase after a few rumours. Only for a short time – and a crashed share price – but later wanting to pull the ripcord. Instead of preparing for the takeover, Musk then spent months trying to prevent it himself. Until a court forced him into the executive chair.

Together with the current chaos, this gives a deep insight. All of the problems Musk now has have been known for months. And would not have needed his crazy urgency. Had Musk really been the ingenious strategist and visionary, he would have had ample time to lay out plans for the acquisition beforehand. Or he would have had to put up with the curious looks of the public while he calmly settled in after the takeover and checked the feasibility of his vision. But that’s exactly what Musk doesn’t seem to be able to do. What counts for him is the spectacle.

Management as a spectacle

The best way to see this is with the chaos surrounding verification on Twitter. Until Musk took over, they were able to have public figures such as celebrities, politicians and journalists confirmed as “genuine” in a complicated process. This is how false reports should be dealt with. Musk wants to end that now. Instead, everyone should be able to verify themselves by paying eight dollars. Musk announced that journalism would be democratized, the number of spam and fake accounts reduced, and the service made profitable.

Every single one of the claims is complete nonsense. Statements and allegations do not suddenly become more credible because someone is willing to pay eight euros. Even fraudsters and spammers will hardly be stopped by such a small sum. And it doesn’t replace verification at all: one payment is enough to get the new blue tick – you don’t have to store any data, let alone have it confirmed. It is also doubtful whether an eight-euro subscription will be enough to earn an additional one billion euros each year, which the takeover will cost.

But Musk doesn’t seem to care about that anyway. Instead, he uses the debate primarily for self-portrayal. Again and again he speaks up as “Chief Twit”, attacking supposed elites who supposedly see their privileges in danger. In between dog photos, the question of why small talk is legal, and voting recommendations. The main thing is that the audience reacts – whether positively or negatively.

Typical Musk

Now, of course, it has to be said that this behavior is not new. For years, Musk’s erratic tweeting has been a source of trouble, with reports of his choleric outbursts toward employees circulating. But although the stock exchange regulator had to sue him from tweeting about Tesla shares, he always managed to make his company appear as a great vision for the future. His wealth is also based on it: The value of Tesla shares simply cannot be explained with pure car sales, the shareholders are betting on Musk’s big plan.

But it was precisely this belief that the Twitter chaos was intended to shake to its foundations. Such erratic decisions by the boss may be strange when it comes to a premium subscription, but they can be endured. But when it comes to Mars missions or self-driving cars, you have to plan long-term and, above all, carefully. Just like Musk just denied on Twitter.