Elon’s Hollywood Ending

Elon Musk
Tesla C.E.O. Elon Musk. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/GC Images
William D. Cohan
October 2, 2022

Sometime over the past few weeks, Bloomberg reports, Hollywood mogul and Endeavor founder and C.E.O. Ari Emanuel tried to broker a deal between Elon Musk, a former Endeavor board member, and the Twitter board of directors, via Silver Lake C.E.O. Egon Durban, who sits on the boards of both companies. The idea was, presumably, to find a solution to the legal battle between Elon and Twitter before the conflagration hits the Delaware courtroom in a few weeks. 

A compromise would certainly be a Hollywood ending befitting Ari, the ultimate “interstitial man,” to borrow a phrase from the incomparable Ralph Nader. There’s few middlemen better suited to negotiating a settlement, or pulling a rabbit from a hat, than the financial magician who managed to roll two talent agencies, Ultimate Fighting, Miss Universe, and professional bull riding into a single public company, packaged as a pandemic reopening play, and was crowned the highest-paid Hollywood executive in 2021 for his troubles. He and Elon are two peas in a pod. Egon, the biggest investor in Endeavor, easily makes the third pea in the pod.

And Elon ought to listen to Ari, if he knows what’s good for him. Elon, after all, will almost certainly lose in the Chancery Court, as is painfully clear from the hundreds of his texts that were revealed Thursday as part of the pre-trial discovery process. The messages, which include exchanges with everyone from Jack Dorsey and Joe Rogan to Mathias Döpfner and Gayle King, show plainly that one of Elon’s central arguments for getting out of the deal—those fake Twitter accounts—is a loser. In an April 9 text to Bret Taylor, the chairman of the Twitter board of directors, more than two weeks before he signed the merger agreement, Elon wrote, “Purging fake users will make the numbers look terrible, so restructuring should be done as a private company.” Ah, so Elon knew all about the bots and the fake users and signed the merger agreement anyway. Ouch.