Well, the countdown clock may be ticking to X CEO Linda Yaccarino's predictable departure from the platform formerly known as Twitter. Company owner and virtual CEO Elon Musk has just told skittish advertisers "Don't advertise."
The MyPillow guy doesn't have any money left, so it's not clear who Elon Musk hopes will fill the dwindling advertising coffers of X/Twitter if regular corporate advertisers all decide the place is too toxic. And in the latest chapter in this ongoing, tiresome saga, Musk gave an interview at a New York Times event Wednesday in which he basically tossed niceties out the window and said how he really feels about the advertiser exodus.
As you can hear in the video clip below, and as the Times reports from the DealBook Summit, Musk responded angrily to some earlier comments at the event by Disney CEO Bob Iger about why the company needed to stop its ads on X due to perceived antisemitism by Musk and on the platform generally.
"You don't want them to advertise?" interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin asks.
"No," Musk says. "If somebody's gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. But go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is."
BREAKING: Elon Musk tells advertisers to “go f**k” themselves if they are going to try and blackmail him on his own platform.— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) November 29, 2023
And this is exactly why Elon was the perfect person to buy Twitter 🔥
“If somebody's gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with… pic.twitter.com/33dPDu8wZC
This is not great for X's remaining staff, or for Yaccarino — an ad industry veteran whose colleagues have publicly been asking her what she thinks she's going to do at X when it comes to regaining advertisers' trust.
And, as the Times notes, "Investment banks sitting on billions in debt that helped enable his acquisition of the company last year will probably not be happy about Mr. Musk’s aggressive stance."
Musk did, first, offer a familiar sounding mea culpa about his misguided retweet of someone else's fairly antisemitic post — a post by a guy, it should be noted, who posts a lot of white grievance "anti-white racism" content.
"I should have written in greater length what I meant," Musk said at the event, saying he should not have knee-jerk reply-tweeted the way he did. "I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me and to those who are antisemitic and for that I am quite sorry," he added.
The journey of Musk's ownership of X/Twitter seems to be coming to a major inflection point with today's comments, following the last week and a half of further bad press and the march of major advertisers away from the platform. Without advertising, and without the proven success of Musk's monthly subscription model (we don't actually know how successful that's been), it's not clear how he hopes X will make money. But he seemed to say Wednesday that he was throwing up his hands, and if an extended advertiser boycott ends up bankrupting the country, the public will blame the advertisers for this and not him.
Top image: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 29: Elon Musk wears a necklace in honor of Israeli hostages onstage during The New York Times Dealbook Summit 2023 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 29, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The New York Times)