Elon Musk confirms Twitter CEO resignation, allegations of investor influence raised

Elon Musk smiling
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Elon Musk has announced he will tender his resignation as Twitter CEO after a poll he posted concluded that the majority of users on the social media platform wanted him to step down.

Musk, who assumed the role of chief executive in October following a $44 billion acquisition, posted the poll on 18 December asking “should I step down as head of Twitter?”.

In the post, Musk added that he “will abide by the results of the poll” should users urge him to step aside from the lead role. The Twitter chief officially confirmed he would step down on Monday evening.

The poll drew more than 17 million votes from users on the platform airing their views on his decision, which resulted in 57% favouring his exit.

Days after the poll ended and following suspicions that Musk may not abide by its results, he confirmed today his intentions to resign and focus on running the software and servers teams at the social media firm.

He added that this is contingent on whether he can “find someone foolish enough to take the job”.

Exactly who will take over as CEO is yet to be revealed. But in a cryptic follow-up tweet on Sunday, he warned users “be careful what you wish, you might get it”.

In a reply to a user who claimed he “already has the new CEO picked out”, Musk added that “no one wants the job who can keep Twitter alive. There is no successor”.

This latest move follows a consistent pattern since Musk assumed control of the company earlier this year. The entrepreneur has conducted a number of controversial polls seeking user feedback on major decisions in a move to bolster democratisation on the platform.

A poll to re-instate former US President Donald Trump saw users vote for his return after a ban was imposed in the wake of the January 6th riot. The move fell flat, however, when Trump refused to return and stay on alternative social media site, Truth Social.

Behind the scenes influence?

Speculation over Musk’s decision to launch this poll has been rife on the platform over the last three days.

Leonidas Raisini, a self-proclaimed Tesla and Twitter angel investor, claimed to have “overheard” discussions between Musk and Qatari emir Tamim Bin Hamad during the World Cup final in Doha on Sunday.

In a series of tweets, Raisini suggested the decision to launch the poll was influenced by investor pressure on Musk to step down.

“Elon tweeted this [the poll] after he was told by his Saudi and Qatari investors to get his sh*t together. They are not happy with the way he is proving to be an amateur CEO and asked him to step down,” Raisini said in a follow-up tweet.

Following Musk’s takeover in October, Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal became Twitter’s second-largest shareholder after investing $1.89 billion to support the deal.

The Qatar Investment Authority, a subsidiary of the country’s sovereign wealth fund also contributed around $375 million in exchange for shares in the social media platform.

According to reports from CNBC Musk has been actively searching for a replacement CEO for some time. Sources told the publication that the chief executive had signalled his intention to find a replacement prior to the launch of the poll.

Musk has been vocal about his position at the social media company since the takeover, suggesting that his role would only be temporary.

Policy Changes

In the wake of the vote, Musk hinted that the social media firm could implement changes to how users interact with polls on the platform.

Musk suggested that the outcome might have been influence by bot-driven traffic, and confirmed in a tweet that moving forward only Twitter Blue subscribers would be able to participate in the polling feature.

Since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the platform has been hit by a number of controversies, including a recent snap decision to ban a number of high-profile journalists amid claims of ‘doxxing’.

This disruptive period also saw thousands of staff laid off, an overhaul of the platform’s verification system and the scrapping of its Trust and Safety council.

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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