“Go F–k Yourself” – Upnewsdaily

“Go F–k Yourself” – Upnewsdaily

Elon Musk made plain his view of the widespread advertiser withdrawal this month from X, formerly Twitter.

“Don’t advertise,” he urged any marketer with misgivings. “Somebody’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising?! Blackmail me with money? Go f–k yourself. Go. F–k. Yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.”

The billionaire tech exec’s remarks came at the beginning of an occasionally awkward, epic-length but frequently compelling session capping the New York Times DealBook Summit.

Moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin noted that Disney has been among the companies pausing ads on X in the wake of Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic post. CEO Bob Iger was among the notable guests earlier in the day at the conference.

“Hey, Bob, if you’re here in the audience,” Musk said. “Sorry, that’s how I feel.”

Sorkin repeatedly asked Musk how the economic model of X/Twitter would be affected by a longer-term advertiser withdrawal. Prior to going private, Twitter as recently as spring 2022 had disclosed that 90% of its revenue came from advertising. U.S. advertising revenue during a five-week span this past spring plunged 59% from the same period in the prior year, according to a report in the Times.

“What this advertising boycott is going to do is it’s going to kill the company,” Musk declared. “And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company. It will be documented in great detail.”

Sorkin said to Musk that advertisers would likely push back on that notion and point out that he was the one who prompted their pullback. “Tell it to the judge,” he said. “The judge is the public.”

Asked if the endgame he sees is a large swath of Musk partisans reacting against advertisers that pulled funds from Twitter by boycotting their brands, Musk replied, “They already are. Let the chips fall where they may.”

In addition to Iger, former NBCUniversal ad boss Linda Yaccarino was also sitting in the audience for the session at Jazz at Lincoln Center. (Linda’s got to sell advertising,” Sorkin observed at one point.) The CEO of X has been trying to contain damage from Musk’s actions and the growing sense in the ad community that Musk’s free-speech-at-all-costs approach to running the platform has left brands vulnerable. In a report that prompted a lawsuit by Musk, the advocacy group Media Matters documented cases of ad messages being paired with objectionable and hate-filled posts on X.

During the 90-minute sit-down, a vast array of topics came up, though none of the commentary from the guest of honor topped the shock value of his opening salvo. The discussion alighted on politics (Musk is a “no” on President Biden but wouldn’t say who might capture his 2024 vote); artificial intelligence (the technology will exceed the cognitive abilities of humans within three years, Musk believes); and electric vehicles (China’s EV makers pose the stiffest competition to Tesla, per Musk).

X, formerly Twitter, was a recurring theme, however. Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion last year, renaming it X and making sweeping changes but conceding that its value has plunged by more than half on his watch. During previous pullbacks by ad buyers, he had sought to reassure them of the viability of X, and the arrival of Yaccarino was interpreted as a step in that direction. Even though he now holds the title of Chief Technology Officer at X, Musk exerts far more influence than anyone in the CEO seat ever could, mainly because he now has almost 165 million followers on the platform.

The timing of Musk’s recent trip to Israel was a coincidence vis-à-vis the advertiser situation. “It was not an apology tour,” he said. He also reiterated his prior assertions that he is not antisemitic but rather the opposite, “philosemitic,” showing off a necklace given to him by the parents of an Israeli hostage. The necklace bears a message urging the safe return of remaining hostages being held by Hamas.

“Once in a while I will say something foolish,” Musk said in a moment of contrition that stopped short of a full-on apology. “I would certainly put that ‘You’ve said the actual truth’ [reply on X] as one of the most foolish things, or the most foolish thing, I ever put on the platform.” It may be “one of the dumbest of my 30,000 posts,” he emphasized.

In an effort to explain what he did mean, Musk said that it was his observation that Jewish people have been persecuted for thousands of years, giving them a natural affinity with others in a persecuted group. “You have seen protests for Hamas in every major city and they receive funding from prominent people in the Jewish community,” he said. “If you fund persecuted groups in general, some of those persecuted groups unfortunately want your annihilation. What I meant is that it’s unwise to fund organizations that support groups that want your annihilation.”

Later in the interview, Musk addressed his past admission that “my mind is a storm.”

The conversation at that point, which had been marked by long pauses and impulsive gales of laughter by Musk, went in a more psychological and philosophical direction. “You know, I think to some degree, I was born this way, but then it was amplified by a difficult childhood, frankly,” Musk said. The exec then hit on some of the themes that came to the fore in Walter Isaacson’s recent biography.

“I can remember even in happy moments when I was a kid that there’s, it just feels like there’s just a range of forces in my mind constantly,” Musk said. “But now this productively manifests itself in technology and building things for the most part, so I think on balance, the output has been very productive.”

Jill Goldsmith and Ted Johnson contributed to this report.

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