Elon Musk turns into Trump on Twitter

Elon Musk of Tesla fame has a knack for getting his name in the headlines. There is barely a week goes by when his name doesn’t appear in the media somewhere, whether it is the mainstream media or more niche sectors of the press. This week he has taken on the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), because he is fed up of journalists’ criticisms of Tesla.

As always, Musk launches his attacks on Twitter. This time he presented the WSJ and its columnist Holman Jenkins as “sock puppets for “big oil.” In one tweet he asked his followers: “Please support my campaign to rebrand WSJ as sock puppets emoji.”

Francois Asure at CCN finds it very odd that Musk should behave somewhat like Trump on Twitter, suggesting that surely as a creative genius, Musk can do better than hurl “Trump-style epithets” at such an esteemed institution. Asure was referring to the way in which Trump branded Hillary Clinton, “Crooked Hillary”, and he also called Kim Jong-Un “Little Rocket Man.” Presumably he didn’t call him that when he met him at their famous summit meeting.

Instead, Musk appears to be adopting Trump’s tactics with the WSJ, simply because he doesn’t think the paper gives him fair coverage. It sounds a lot like Trump’s ongoing battle with The New York Times, CNN and his other perceived media enemies that he is sure tell lies about him. It often comes across as childish petulance on trump’s part, and Musk’s response to this WSJarticle, “Tesla Can’t Stop Dreaming Big.” The introduction reads: “Elon Musk’s plans to turn Tesla into a dominant automobile player have become a liability instead of an asset.” It is a less than glowing account of Tesla and the upheavals within the company. It also questions Musk’s leadership style and the way in which he uses his personality –“erratic, bombastic and alternative” –to draw attention to his brands.

As Asure remarks, “For the CEO to use Twitter to communicate with shareholders is about as unusual as a U.S. president turning to the social media platform to craft a message.” And as he rightly points out, the way in which Musk courts media attention is always likely to lead to some negative reviews. It is not difficult to see why the WSJ cites Musk as a liability for Tesla; he positions himself as bigger than his car brand. If you stopped the average man in the street, I’d say it is likely that they know more about what Musk gets up to than the engineering or design of a Tesla model.

And why did he choose to use “big oil” as his idea of an insult? Simply because his fan base is into electric cars, and oil, a fossil fuel, is the nemesis of those who are environmentally conscious. The oil industry probably doesn’t love Elon Musk much either, but as Asure points out, the oil industry often gets a “free pass” in the press, whereas the Tesla story is much more entertaining for any journalist.

And Musk often makes big claims that he can’t follow through on, which is more grist for the media’s mill. But, the point of this whole story is to illustrate how social media has become the battleground for characters like Musk and Trump. When their backs are against the wall they hit out in tweet form. And it often backfires on them, because calling people names makes things personal that should be treated with gravitas and diplomacy. However, neither Trump nor Musk possesses much of these qualities. While Musk’s tweets are entertaining, as are Trump’s, he is in danger of allowing his game playing to obliterate his Tesla brand; just as Trump’s outbursts have lowered the tone of the Office of the President of the United States.

Jack Dorsey: the billionaire on a $1.40 salary

I’ve discovered something truly strange: Jack Dorsey, one of the co-founders of Twitter, takes home an annual salary of $1.40. Why this odd amount? Well, it is a nod to the original 140-character limit for a tweet. He would of course be within his rights to ask for $2.80, since Twitter expanded the maximum number of characters that can be used to 280.

Dorsey is, of course, known for being a billionaire, and Twitter generated a revenue of $909 million in the last quarter of 2018 alone. His SEC filing revealed: “As a testament to his commitment to and belief in Twitter’s long-term value creation potential, our CEO, Jack Dorsey, declined all compensation and benefits for 2015, 2016, and 2017, and in 2018 he declined all compensation and benefits other than a salary of $1.40.”

Why does Dorsey do it?

Gerelyn Terzo writing at CCN suggests it makes him and his company look good, and Terzo remarks, “His creativity to reflect the Twitter character limit is second-to-none.” But let’s not forget that in 2018 he offloaded a lot of stock. He sold 1.7 million shares from Square to net him $80 million after taxes. And by the way, he only takes home an annual salary of $2.75 from Square. This company, which makes devices for small businesses to accept credit card payment sin person, was struggling to become profitable, but in 2018 its stock climbed by 80%. And the majority of Dorsey’s fortune is tied up in Square equity. As Forbes reports, “Thanks largely to the run-up in the stock, he is now worth $1.9 billion more than at the start of the year. His net worth currently stands at $4.7 billion, with his 61 million shares of Square accounting for $3.9 billion.” By contrast, Dorsey hasn’t touched his Twitter shares this year and they surged by 50% in value in 2018, giving him a stake worth $600 million.

Dorsey isn’t alone

Dorsey isn’t the only billionaire who takes a nominal salary. Donald Trump donates his $400,000 presidential salary to different causes and Elon Musk never cashes in his annual salary of $45,936, which he is forced to accept under Californian law. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is paid $1 per annum, as is Evan Spiegel at Snap.

Bankers prefer big money

Significantly, banking CEOs, do not take the same approach as the founders of media and tech giants like Twitter and Facebook. They are firmly wedded to their eye-watering salaries, despite the banking crash of 2007. Swiss Bank UBS is currently under scrutiny for its CEO’s excessive salary of $14 million. But Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan Chase is paid $30 million per annum. No wonder that when the banker was in front of Congress last week, he was closely questioned about why some of the bank’s staff were finding it impossible to reach the end of the month without needing overdraft facilities. Katie Porter’s questioning of Dimon should have made him squirm, but his face didn’t move a single muscle as he responded to her questions with, “”I don’t know, I’d have to think about that.”

But the real question here is: are the likes of Jack Dorsey really the good guys, and the bankers the baddies? Perhaps it is their employees who can answer that question?

3 Reasons Jack Dorsey believes in a Bitcoin Revival

Jack Dorsey, the billionaire co-founder of Twitter and Square, is at least consistent in his support for Bitcoin. He has remained unwavering in his belief, surely earning him the title of ‘Bitcoin evangelist’.

It is hard to dismiss Dorsey’s view given that he is a successful entrepreneur, and his support for the leading cryptocurrency is music to the ears of those who share his views, but don’t have the public profile to share them with such a vast audience.

Recently Dorsey participated in a podcast, imaginatively called, “Tales from the Crypt” (perhaps they are also Edgar Allan Poe fans as it sounds like the title of one of his stories), where he talked about buying Bitcoin. He revealed that he “maximises the $10,000 Bitcoin purschase limit on Square Cash to acquire the leading cryptocurrency.” Square, in case you are unaware of it, is a payments platform with a Cash App that enables people to send money to others almost instantly. It has a merchant payment system as well and as it says on its website is, “We’re empowering the electrician to send invoices, setting up the food truck with a delivery option, helping the clothing boutique pay its employees, and giving the coffee chain capital for a second, third, and fourth location.”

What will fuel Bitcoin growth?

Since 1st March, Bitcoin has been showing growth, and another supporter of the cryptocurrency, Brian Kelly, CEO of BKCM, said he believed, “the so-called crypto winter is approaching its last phase and is slowing thawing.” Since he said this, within a week, the Bitcoin price rebounded to over $3,900 as the cryptocurrency market added $6 billion to its valuation.

Kelly explained to CNBC what was happening in terms of Bitcoin improving its fundamentals. “If you look at the number of addresses that have been created on the Bitcoin network, that’s up about 20 percent from the January lows, it’s apt highs at the levels we saw in the spring of 2018 when Bitcoin was well above $6,000. So Fundamentally, you’re starting to see improvement.

Some high profile investors and endowments have been dipping their toe into the space, add in that you’re talking about Fidelity coming out with custody this week and Jack you know, he understands the payment network.”

Kelly’s reference to Jack Dorsey brings me back to Jack’s views about what has happened. In one interview he listed the reasons for growth as “improved scalability through a second-layer scaling solution, the involvement of institutions such as Fidelity and ICE, and the overall increase in interest towards the asset class.”

Jack Dorsey’s 3 reasons for believing in Bitcoin growth

Those are the three reasons Dorsey sees a strong future for Bitcoin. And there is one other: Dorsey is also an investor in Lightning Labs and therefore has an interest in seeing the Lightning Network succeed. He has reaffirmed that Square, the $31 billion payments giant, will adopt the Lightning Network in the near-term and when it does, Dorsey could single-handedly push the adoption of the second-layer scaling solution.

Twitter, Facebook and Google under fire from Eurasia

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The social media giants’ blanket ban on crypto and blockchain related advertising hasn’t gone down well in Russia, China and South Korea. According to a report in Cointelegraph the major blockchain associations of these countries are planning to file a joint lawsuit against Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yandex, says the news agency TASS.

Facebook started the ball rolling with this back in January, although after the emergence of its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckerberg and Co. don’t have much moral high ground to stand on when it comes to “misleading or deceptive promotional practices,” which was its given reason for banning ICO adverts and anything related to crypto.

Google also announced a ban in March, which comes into effect in June, and Twitter confirmed its ban this week. Yet, Jack Dorsey has been talking up Bitcoin as the world’s future single currency. It’s undoubtedly confusing and smacks of something like hypocrisy.

The Eurasian organisations, which include the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain (RACIB), the Korea Venture Business Associations, and LCBT, a Chinese association of crypto investors, are not going to just sit back and let it happen though. The RACIB has already stated at a conference in Moscow, “the actions of these four tech companies have negatively affected the crypto market.”

Its President, said:

“We believe that this is a use of the monopoly position of these four companies, which have entered into a cartel agreement with each other in order to manipulate the market. The ban from these four organizations has led to a significant drop in the market in recent months.”

To fund the lawsuit, the organisations have created an umbrella Eurasian Association of Blockchain, and they have been asking anyone to “chip in” whatever they can.

Most significantly, Yury Pripachkin of RACIB, said the “claim will also be filed against the companies’ shareholders if they have crypto wallets.” The lawsuit will be filed in the USA, primarily because Pripachkin noted that it has states like Wyoming that are “loyal to cryptocurrency.”

This is a story to watch, because if the Eurasian Association of Blockchain is successful, and even if it isn’t, we will all have a clearer view of social media’s muddy waters around the cryptosphere.