Have We Reached Peak Elon?

Elon Musk
Elon Musk at a Halloween party in 2022. Photo: Gotham/FilmMagic
Baratunde Thurston
December 22, 2022

If there is one omnipresent theme that connects all of our work here at Puck, it’s that change is the single constant in our economy and culture. Silicon Valley, like politics and the media business, follows its own sine wave of hype-driven manias, with investors all piling into the next big thing—Mobile gaming! Gig economy! Internet-of-Things! Self-driving cars! Web3!—only to hit a wall, reset, and resume the journey with just a touch of humility. In that spirit, let me use this last column of the year to make a few predictions about which technologies and companies (and people) were the most overhyped, which still have promise, and what might come next.

I. The Twitter Era is Over

In 2022, Elon Musk brought Trump and Kanye energy to his stewardship of Twitter. He complained about power while wielding an outsized share of it. He trolled from headquarters. He amplified conspiracy theories. Being the mature, thoughtful, adult leader he is, he kicked his critics off the service falsely claiming they were doxxing him. In the process, he exhausted us all. 

I would love to see the Chief Twit fail so badly he doesn’t tweet about it and instead goes quietly into the night, not just from Twitter but from public life more broadly. As Scott Galloway has said many times on Pivot, Musk “brings volatility, not value,” and his behavior as head of Twitter has already begun to infect his other businesses. He’s raided the ranks of those businesses to help him run Twitter, conscripting executives and engineers from Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company. Meanwhile, Tesla stock is down by two-thirds this year and 25 percent since his Twitter takeover. Investors are losing patience with the part-time C.E.O. shtick—which, ironically, is a game that a previous generation of Twitter investors knew all too well.