Elon Musk said Wednesday that he might be able to appoint his successor as Twitter CEO by the end of 2023 but first needs to “stabilize” his social media company.
“I think I need to stabilize the organization and just make sure it’s in a financially healthy place and that the product roadmap is clearly laid out,” Musk said at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“I’m guessing probably towards the end of this year should be good timing to find someone else to run the company because I think it should be in a stable position around the end of this year.”
Musk took over as CEO of Twitter in October as part of his $44 billion acquisition of the social media firm.
The billionaire indicated late last year that he doesn’t expect to be the CEO of Twitter permanently and eventually will hand over the reins to someone else.
In December, Musk tweeted a poll asking people whether he should step down as the head of Twitter. The majority of the 17.5 million votes said yes.
“I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams,” Musk tweeted after the poll.
CNBC reported in December that Musk was actively looking for a successor.
His tenure at Twitter so far has been rocky, marked by massive staff cuts and advertisers fleeing or slashing their spending on the platform.
Meanwhile, investors in Musk’s other company Tesla are concerned that he may be distracted by the events at Twitter at a time when the automaker is facing demand challenges and increasing competition. Musk sold off billions of dollars of Tesla stock to fund his Twitter takeover.
Why Musk bought Twitter
Musk spoke about the thinking behind the acquisition versus building his own social media company.
“I thought about creating something from scratch, but I thought Twitter would perhaps accelerate progress versus creating something from scratch by three to five years,” Musk said. “And I think we are seeing just a tremendous technology acceleration that three to five years is actually worth a lot.”
Musk spoke about his motivations for the Twitter buyout, saying he was “a little worried about the direction and the effect of social media on the world, and especially Twitter.”
“I thought it was very important for there to be a maximally trusted sort of digital public square, where people within countries and internationally could communicate with the least amount of censorship allowed by law. Obviously that varies a lot by jurisdiction.”
His comments echo ones he has made over the past few years. He has labeled himself a “free speech absolutist.”
Musk said on Wednesday, however, that social media companies “should adhere to the laws of other countries and not try to put a thumb on the scale beyond the laws of countries.” He accused Twitter of imposing the “values” of San Francisco and Berkeley, the university in California, which he described as a “niche ideology,” in the way it ran its business.
“I thought it was important, kind of, for the future of civilization to try to correct that thumb on the scale,” Musk said, describing his motivations behind buying Twitter.
Musk has faced criticism for, on the one hand, advocating free speech while also complying with censorship laws in countries, a fine line he is trying to walk, as reflected in his comments.
The latest controversy centered around a BBC documentary that was critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian government last month ordered internet platforms and social media companies, including Twitter, to block links and videos of the documentary. Twitter appeared to comply with the order, according to NBC News.
Musk replied to a user in January asking if it was true that Twitter complied with the Indian government’s orders.
“First I’ve heard. It is not possible for me to fix every aspect of Twitter worldwide overnight, while still running Tesla and SpaceX, among other things,” Musk replied.