Twitter owner Elon Musk confirmed Tuesday evening he will step down as the company’s CEO, but only when he identifies a successor, directly addressing for the first time a Twitter poll he created this week in which millions of users voted for his ouster.
In a tweet, Musk said he would resign “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!”
He added that following his resignation as CEO, Musk would “run the software & servers teams” at Twitter, indicating he may continue to exercise significant influence on the company’s decision-making.
The announcement comes after more than a day of silence about the poll following its outcome. On Monday, after more than 17 million users had voted — 57.5% of whom said Musk should resign — the billionaire executive addressed the results only indirectly. He suggested that future Twitter polls could be restricted to paid users of Twitter Blue, the company’s subscription service.
Musk’s poll asking users whether he should resign as CEO came after a massive backlash to Twitter’s abrupt suspension of several journalists who cover him, as well as Twitter’s decision to ban, and then un-ban, links to other social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon, a fast-growing Twitter rival that has octupled in size since October.
Musk’s brief tenure as CEO has resulted in sweeping, occasionally erratic shifts at one of the world’s most influential social media companies.
Under his leadership, Twitter has laid off the majority of its staff, alienated major advertisers, welcomed former President Donald Trump back to the platform after his suspension in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and released internal communications to journalists about Twitter’s operations before Musk took ownership of the company.
Musk forced remaining employees to take a pledge to become “extremely hardcore” in their work, and stopped enforcing Twitter’s policy against Covid-19 misinformation.
Over a matter of days, Twitter launched, and then was forced to un-launch, a paid verification feature that was instantly manipulated by satirical accounts impersonating verified major brands, athletes and other public figures on the platform.
Musk’s penchant for making major product changes based on little more than informal Twitter polls has highlighted his ad hoc and improvisational management style. But that approach has attracted growing criticism from many Twitter users. Last week, Twitter suspended several journalists who had reported on Musk’s permanent ban of an account that tracked his jet.
Growing criticism of Musk culminated in Sunday’s poll that served as an effective, if unscientific, referendum on Musk’s handling of the company since he closed his purchase of Twitter in late October.