- By James Clayton
- BBC North America technology reporter
Elon Musk said running Twitter had been “quite painful” and “a rollercoaster ride”, in a late-breaking interview with the BBC.
The multi-billionaire entrepreneur also said he would sell the business if the right person comes along.
The interview, broadcast live from Twitter headquarters, also covered mass layoffs, misinformation and his work habits.
Mr Musk, who also runs carmaker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, bought Twitter for $44bn (£35.4bn) in October.
In the conversation – in which Mr. Musk tried to do the interview as much as the reverse – Mr. Musk defended his handling of the company.
When asked if he regretted buying Twitter, the world’s second-richest man said “the pain level was extremely high, it wasn’t some kind of party.”
Speaking about his time at the helm so far, Mr Musk said: “It hasn’t been boring. It’s been a roller coaster ride.”
The situation has been “really quite stressful over the past few months”, he added, but said he still believed buying the business was the right thing to do.
Things are going “reasonably well,” he said, saying site usage is up and “the site is working.”
The workload means that “I sometimes sleep in the office”, he says, adding that he has a place on a sofa in a library “where no one goes”.
And he also addressed his sometimes controversial tweets, saying, “Did I shoot myself in the foot with tweets multiple times? Yeah.”
“I think I shouldn’t tweet after 3am,” he added.
Asked about the decision to add a label to the BBC’s main Twitter account describing it as ‘government funded media’, Mr Musk said: ‘I know the BBC is generally not happy to be tagged media of state.”
“The BBC is, and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through license fees,” he said.
Mr Musk said Twitter was adjusting the BBC label to “publicly funded”. “We try to be specific,” he said.
“I actually have a lot of respect for the BBC,” Mr Musk added, saying the interview was “a good opportunity to ask a few questions” and “get some feedback on what we should be doing differently. “.
Discussing Twitter’s finances, Musk said the company was “roughly breaking even” with most of its advertisers back.
He also said reducing the workforce from just under 8,000 at the time he bought the company to around 1,500 had not been easy.
He admitted he didn’t fire everyone in person, saying, “It’s not possible to talk to that many people face to face.”
The departure of many engineers from Twitter since Mr. Musk bought the company has raised concerns about the stability of the platform.
He acknowledged a few issues, including outages on the site, but said the outages haven’t lasted very long and the site is currently working fine.
In the interview – which was streamed live on Twitter Spaces from San Francisco – Mr Musk was also called out for disinformation and hate speech on the platform.
He claimed there has been less misinformation on Twitter since the takeover and that his efforts to remove bots – automated accounts – would reduce fake news.
But many outside experts disagree. One study – and there are quite a few others along the same lines – found that engagement with popular accounts spreading misinformation increased after Mr Musk took over.
He repeatedly questioned whether journalists were fair arbiters of truth and said he trusted “ordinary people” more.
On the issue of verified legacy blue ticks on the platform, Mr Musk said they would be removed from accounts by the end of next week.
Former Twitter executive Bruce Daisley – who led the company in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for eight years – said the interview “gave us a glimpse into the strange life of this billionaire”.
“He admitted today that the only reason he bought Twitter was because he thought a judge would force him to accept the transaction. He never admitted it until now, so it was a very fanciful interview.”
Mr Daisley also suggested the interview showed he was not always consistent in what he said.
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