Advertise on a Competitor’s Social Media Platform? Um, that Would Be a Hoot… GM “Paused” Ads on Musk’s Twitter

Automakers are huge advertisers. Social media platforms are huge data collectors. And now Tesla’s Musk owns this data.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Automakers spend lavishly on advertising, and they advertise heavily in the social media. But now, one of the social media platforms, Twitter, is owned as of yesterday by the CEO and largest shareholder of Tesla. And the automakers that compete with Tesla, and are getting their clocks cleaned by Tesla, are now finding themselves advertising on Elon Musk’s platform. And when you think about it, that’s kind of a hoot.

No one likes to advertise on a competitor’s platform, for all sorts of reasons, but particularly because on a social-media platform, the competitor gathers the consumer tracking data and can get important insights into current and potential customers and their reactions to the products and ads – without even passing on those insights to the automaker.

Advertising on a competitor’s social media platform is a particular problem because of the vast amount of user data that those platforms collect – data on your customers and potential customers that you may actually not see yourself, unless the platform decides to share it with you.

General Motors is the first automaker out the gate: It announced on the first day after Musk closed the acquisition of Twitter that it “paused” its paid advertising on Twitter.

“We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership. As is normal course of business with a significant change in a media platform, we have temporarily paused our paid advertising. Our customer care interactions on Twitter will continue,” GM said in a statement emailed to CNBC.

Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram brands, among a bunch of other brands, tweeted this morning via its Citroën account, pointing specifically at the issue: “Hello to the social media platform owned by one of our competitors.”

This isn’t about advertisers’ concerns, if any, with Musk’s potential content moderation policies. Musk already tried to soothe those fears with his open letter, addressed to advertisers, that was suddenly full of lovey-dovey language, posted on Twitter, of course. “In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all.” And he said, “I very much believe that advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain, and inform you.” And he said, “Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise.”

But for automakers, this is about competition and how much information you want your competitor to have about your customers, potential customers, their reactions to your products, and their interactions with you.

Ford, for example, used Twitter to promote its electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, a direct competitor to Tesla’s still unavailable Cybertruck. Ford designed a huge “reveal” campaign on Twitter, encompassing a wide variety of strategies and partners on Twitter, that Twitter itself described in its marketing post, “How Ford helped drive the electric vehicle conversation on Twitter with its F-150 Lightning launch.”

Twitter claimed that Ford reached over 1.56 billion “brand impressions” on Twitter, a 39% “EV share of voice on Twitter,” 4.5 million “livestream views,” and whatever – assuming that these weren’t all bots and fake accounts, which would be, well, a hoot, now that Musk owns the shop.

Does Ford really want Tesla to have all this data? I doubt it. But Musk bought the data, and Tesla will have it.

And Musk isn’t dilly-dallying around: On Thursday already, Tesla engineers showed up at Twitter’s headquarters to review Twitter’s code, according to Bloomberg.

Over the months that Musk’s wildly entertaining takeover of Twitter has played out before us, there surely has been a lot of navel-gazing and head-scratching among automakers as to what to do with their Twitter ads, and their Twitter accounts, and their interactions with folks on Twitter.

GM didn’t just wake up this morning and suddenly realize that Twitter is owned by the guy from Tesla. They prepared for this, and they planned it, and now they’re trying to sort it out with the new owners, if there is anything to sort out. Other automakers and their ad agencies are struggling with it too – because advertising on a competitor’s social media platform is not a good proposition, and there are plenty of other places where automakers can deploy their ad dollars.

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  120 comments for “Advertise on a Competitor’s Social Media Platform? Um, that Would Be a Hoot… GM “Paused” Ads on Musk’s Twitter

  1. Oldskul says:

    Musk, Zuckerberg and Besos are just the next myspace

    • andy says:

      One week into owning Twitter Musk realizes he was talking to robots all along. Sells it to Metaverse for a cool Billion.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        But wait, I thought he fired all the bots today.

        • andy says:

          Wolf, perhaps you can offer Elon your predictive Michael Engel 2.0 AI. :-]

        • joedidee says:

          yes
          just overpaid execs so far
          pay attention
          more tweeties coming soon

        • Wolf Richter says:

          joedidee,

          Videos showed people leaving the Twitter headquarters with boxes. But then I read a story that those were fake, that in fact they were people that didn’t work for Twitter but were just carrying boxes at Twitter headquarters, maybe another Musk prank, who knows. If yes, that would be kind of funny.

        • Leo says:

          It’s simple: Most billionaires like to buy / finance a media companies so that they get the power to control narrative and then manipulate the mob into supporting their businesses (atleast weaken opposition).

          Bezos and Zuckerberg already do that, so why should Musk remain behind?

        • NBay says:

          Twitter reminds me of writing on bathroom walls…..never learned anything there….saw this Limerick there often, though;

          Those who write on bathroom walls
          Roll their…….

        • NBay says:

          TV Tropes has that limerick right, if you Googled it…and a few more of the common “Tweets”, 50s,60s, version.
          Don’t know how we survived without social media to guide us…..

      • Flea says:

        He paid 44 billion

    • JGarbo says:

      Bezos is storeman, Zuck is a terminal, Musk puts stuff into space. Who would you back? The smartest kid in the room…

      • Lynn says:

        Musk doesn’t put people into space, the people who work for him do. Musk is mentally ill and erratic and supported in a large part by government ventures who consider him somewhat of a security risk right now.

        • will says:

          I am glad you realize that, everyone is sucking the Elon god narrative. He looks like he lost his mind and hasn’t slept for days. It doesn’t matter how much amphetamine you take at some point your brain needs the sleep. Its like the person that needs coffee to sleep. Tesla vehicles destroy more than they clean.

        • Nacho Bigly Libre says:

          “Musk doesn’t put people into space, the people who work for him do.”

          Very poor take.

          Leader’s job is to set the vision, direction and goals. And to motivate and push people to realize those goals. Not to do everything by oneself.

          Not every plan succeeds and some plans exceed all expectations.

          To call this man incapable or crazy, one must be extremely sour.

        • Hmmmm says:

          You’d be surprised at how many cars you could design or how many people you could put into space yourself if you received tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer cash and unlimited backstops from Uncle Sam.

  2. 2banana says:

    GM could keep making ICE vehicles and not worry about it.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      GM IS making ICE vehicles, but their sales are dropping. The hot thing is EVs, and GM doesn’t have any new mass-produced EVs. It has the Bolt but that’s an old model, and it has some high-dollar handmade stuff. Growth is in EVs, and GM has nothing but big-fat announcements of models it might have in 2025 or whatever. It’s selling automotive vaporware?

      • Antwan says:

        Depending on the interpretation of mass-produced, the new Cadillac Lyriq should sell in adequate numbers to meet that threshold. Or at least the demand will be there, if not supply. GM even temporarily stripped out Super Cruise on vehicles like the Escalade to dedicate the chips to the Lyriq launch.

      • Mark says:

        “It’s selling automotive vaporware?”

        1 percent
        Currently, it’s estimated that around 1 percent of the 250 million cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks on American roads are electric.Aug 8, 2022

        • Massbytes says:

          That is the existing fleet of vehicles. But much like sunk costs, it isn’t all that relevant. What is relevant is percentage of new car sales where EVs are now 13 percent of that, world-wide.

      • hillcountry says:

        Heard GM’s having trouble with something as simple as a concrete pour at their Tennessee Ultium project. A restriction on concrete vendors taking water from the Mississippi River causing delay.

      • SeanDF says:

        Ford and GM can’t move fast enough to reconfigure and compete, they’ll always lag two generations behind, hobbled by $100’s of billions in legacy ICE debt. Battery technology, software and cutting edge manufacturing costs MEGA, can’t be accidentally shitty (thank you LG) or behind the consumer expectation curve-think iphone innovative as baseline. Legacy car makers are road kill, financial deer in the headlights getting mowed down by Tesla. Model Y now best selling car in, you guessed it…GERMANY! Game over.

        Great stuff, Wolf, love your thoughtful content.

        • Old school says:

          In some ways EV’s are a rich first worlds solution to a problem. If you are in Thailand your go to new vehicle is a Honda scooter. A 6000 lb. New EV will never be as green as a 250 lb new scooter because of the sunk emissions delta into creating the vehicle.

        • Miller says:

          Just have to lol at the new levels of delusionality when the Musk fanboys pop onto the site. Tesla’s market share and sales in Europe have been at best stagnant or dropping for a while (Elon’s latest dumb comments aren’t helping) but it’s also facing ever stiffer competition in the US esp from Hyundai/Kia, VW, the luxury automakers but yes, also… from those so benighted legacy automakers, esp Ford and Fiat-Chrysler. Ford especially has been ahead of the curve compared to GM and the new Mustang Mach-E and Lightning are going directly at Tesla’s customers. Reality is that Musk’s Tesla boondoggle is costing him precious tens of billions of dollars and is a huge distraction, but his biggest problem is he can’t keep his mouth shut and keeps finding ways to alienate ever more swathes of his core customers. Tesla is seeing a record level of trade-ins right now from people who used to be Musk’s loyal customer base. Offending your most important customers has never been a good strategy for business.

        • Hmmmmmm says:

          The problem is that a Tesla Model Y is $70K.

          Don’t get me wrong, I have a Polestar 2 that is $56K. Also not cheap.

          But EVs will remain a niche for affluent people until affordable models are available.

          Right now, the only affordable EV is from GM — the Bolt, which is around $26K.

          We are going to need to see a significant number of EVs at the $30K price point before mass adoption hits. And that’s a sweet spot for GM, who is planning an Equinox EV that starts around $30K.

          EVs need their Model T or K-car… cheap to build, buy, maintain and own.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The average transaction price for ALL new vehicles — still mostly ICE vehicles — is $46,000. New vehicles in general have become a thing for the affluent. Tesla sells vehicles that are in the category of luxury and near-luxury, same as BMW.

          GM’s EV the Bolt is something people might be able to afford at $26k, similar to a Camry.

          At the charging station down the street here, I chatted up an Uber driver with a Bolt EUV (the crossover SUV version), and he loved it, and his rides loved it.

      • ron says:

        Yes, in general. The technology and infrastructure to support mass electric car adoption is nowhere near there yet.

        • Flea says:

          If we had competent leader,why not build windmills along interstate system pull in a rest area eat ,bathroom or nap while car charges ,use solar where it’s not viable for wind power fed excess to cities pretty simple

      • Tankster says:

        I’m absolutely shocked that the US manufacturers make minor modifications to IVE vehicles and outfit them with CNG. Mileage may be lower but instead of new USPS vehicles based on batteries, make them run on Natty and install filling stations that would allow it to sell CNG for a profit(!!). What’s wrong with my thoughts? faster conversion to lower emissions, home based gas for ~50 years while we jump to massive distribution of SMR’s, and maybe a battery breakthrough.

        • Tankster says:

          D’oh, left out “don’t” make the vehicles…

        • Wolf Richter says:

          There have for years been CNG-powered commercial vehicles, city buses, and utility vehicles in the US. They work great. We have some of these CNG buses here in San Francisco. But they’re not conversions. They were designed that way.

      • Marc D. says:

        Chevy does have the 2024 Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV, which are supposed to go on sale in 2023.

    • ron says:

      They will…

  3. BS (ini) says:

    Never thought about this but obvious . Maybe my brain is starting to miss some consequences. Thanks for the insight.

    • Mojer says:

      Neither do I, luckily we have Wolf who makes us move our brains. LoL

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Take it one step further – when you or I join a social media platform, a few people think at bit about who will own their data (and so some decline) – but I bet No One gives a thought about who might buy it up!

      How many Twitterati should be more concerned about what Musk now knows about them? How about Parler’s new owner? What if FaceBook becomes “Face Bankrupt” and all that data gets sold to new owners?

    • robert says:

      Musk could keep all the corporate advertisers by going ‘woke’.
      Do they really think Twitter didn’t sell all the traffic info to anybody who would pay for it? Lame.

  4. Timothy J McLean says:

    Im pretty happy being short GM

  5. gary2 says:

    Sorry, but I’m now a Musk Cult member. Twitter was supposed to be his Waterloo, and he’s turned into his most brilliant move yet. The haters really need to just give it a rest.

    • andy says:

      Second most brilliant. The first was the tunnels. Also, the self-standing robot was prety cool. It didn’t do AI (or anything really), but it did stand on its own with some support.

      • gary2 says:

        [faceplant] … I rest my case.

      • Old school says:

        The world is passing into a new realty. What it shall be on the other side is yet to be seen. A lot of foolish investments when money was free and world was leveraging up.

        Inflation is the end result which means we are getting poorer and our spending will not be so foolish from now on.

        People probably paid too much for people’s data in the past. People probably didn’t do accurate calculations of going net zero by 2050.

        Chevron and Exxon earnings let us know companies that invest in what is needed by the world make money like Apple does. Got to have a limit on money creation for world to be a sane place.

      • robert says:

        There’s an old anecdote (apocryphal?) about Faraday demonstrating generation of electricity to the Prime Minister, who asks: ‘But what is it good for?”.
        Quick-thinking Faraday answers: ‘You could tax it, my Lord’.

        Early days of the noisy, unreliable, dangerous horseless carriage: What are they good for?

    • two beers says:

      Easy tiger. When Noel Muks (Lone Skum?) makes twit profitable, or, as more likely, leverages it for political economic power, or yet, even dodges the criminal indictments surely coming for his automotive autopilot assassins, then, maybe, you and your cult will cease to be risible objects of internet scorn. Conman Twitty has a lot more in common with PT Barnum than the namesake of his labor-abusing, regulation-skirting EV concern.

    • Harry Houndstooth says:

      When the market finally realized that Emperor Tesla had no clothes, Elon Musk was forced to move into something else where the market cap could not be tied to reality, at least for a while.

      But I agree with Oldskul, Twitter is just the next Myspace. Competitors barrier to entry hardly exist and any effort to squeeze profits will be met with a mass exodus of users.

      It is just a simple program that shares 280 characters. The value is ephemeral.

    • Nicko2 says:

      Yup. Laugh at Musk all you want; He’s richest human on planet Earth for a reason; He’s a visionary and a genius.

      • bulfinch says:

        If getting called on a bluff & having to grossly overpay to be King Twat of All of Twitter equals vision & genius, then the world has gotten pretty desperate for heroes.

      • gary2 says:

        No, I think you’re misunderstanding me. I know his products are mostly bunk. The point is, he was smart enough to exploit the situation. Besides, he’s got a great sense of humor. Burnt Hair? Let that sink in? LOL

      • Neel Kash & Kari says:

        He is not a genius, he is a quite good at venture capitalism though. I would prefer he keeps his nonsense about colonizing Mars and how a shrinking population a century away in a finite world would be a catastrophe to himself.

  6. nnn says:

    Never buy GM cars. Junk

    • Harry Houndstooth says:

      Maybe Chrysler Pacifica plug in minivans also. Plenty new ones available for sale with a $7500 tax credit. But when you read Consumers Reports that less than half of the purchasers of the last two model years would buy one again and all of the major breakdowns these vehicles experience, I think I will pass. My mechanic friend told me “don’t even think about it.”

      • ron says:

        What kinds of things tend to break? I’m guessing accessories and subsystems, since the driveline should be pretty robust due to simplicity.

    • Stephen says:

      I dunno, I have a gmt800 (2006 sierra 1500) and the thing is fairly enough my spirit animal. Aside from rust problems, which can be prevented with proper maintenance, the thing is bulletproof.

  7. David says:

    No! Musk doesn’t own the data from GM. Twitter does. And Twitter isn’t allowed to share that data with Tesla since these are two unaffiliated firms not under one holding company. This is corporate structure 101 knowledge.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Ridiculous BS. Musk owns Twitter, owns every part of Twitter including the data, and is the CEO of Twitter and can manage the company however he sees fit since it’s now a privately owned company — just like I can manage Wolf Street Corp however I see fit. He can decide that the company he owns can share data with another company, zero problem. That’s done ALL THE TIME, normally for a payment. Ever heard of data brokers? Your personal data is sold all the time, from corporation to corporation. Tesla might even pay a little bit for this data, no problem.

      And David… On day one, Tesla engineers started reviewing Twitter’s code — the code is like the core of Twitter, and Tesla engineers are all over it. I have no idea what kinds of illusions you have about “corporate structure 101.”

      • Tanstaafl says:

        Now I’m really terrified about what the Wolf Street Media Mogul Empire will do with my Data.

        Nur thanks for the heads up.

        • Tanstaafl says:

          ‘But’… Not nur

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Tanstaafl,

          The many stages of online grief:

          If you never post a comment, so if you’re just reading everything on this site, the Wolf Street Media Mogul Empire only knows your IP address (nothing happens on the internet without an IP address).

          This site uses Google ad technologies to serve ads (even the ads from my ad agency), and Google does its own tracking on this site, but my Media Mogul Empire doesn’t get that user data, except in summary form, such as how many pageviews, how many visitors, how many clicks, etc.

          If you post a comment, the Wolf Street Media Mogul Empire collects your alias, your hopefully fake email address, and your IP address.

          If you donate, I know a little more.

          And if you want a mug after donating $100 or more, then I also must know your shipping address and a phone number because FedEx will not let me ship the mug otherwise.

          Your ISP and/or VPN provider know nearly everything you do on the internet in real name and collect all your data.

          If you’re using a smartphone to browse the Internet, every entity involved with your smartphone knows everything about you.

        • Tanstaafl says:

          @Wolf Richter
          Äh, yes, donations. Thanks for the reminder. It’s THIS time of the year.
          But you don’t ship your mugs to my country, and, I’m afraid, the design is not my cup of coffee. So it’s just my paypal adress and fake email.

      • LeClerc says:

        Musk doesn’t own Twitter.

        He owns part of it. The acquisition was syndicated and leveraged.

        Prince AbT retained his ownership percentage.

        There are others whom Musk must consult on major decisions.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          1. He already sent Tesla engineers into Twitter’s headquarters to review Twitter’s code, no problem.

          2. The leverage is debt, not equity. The lenders have no say in anything as long as Twitter services the debt and doesn’t violate the covenants.

          3. Yes, there are some minority owners.

          4. Musk is the majority owner and the CEO and runs the show. He doesn’t need to consult with anyone about running the business.

      • ron says:

        But david WANTS it to be that way…

      • Ricky says:

        “Your personal data is sold all the time, from corporation to corporation”

        Pesky “User Agreements”.

        Wolf, I just read your reply below, too, and was going to chime-in to the same affect. I was hoping you’d mention The Onion Router browsers – sincerely. I have, timidly, tried to poke around in the deep web for better info. I found the IntelExchange to be worthwhile. It’s gone now, I think. The last time I tried to access it wouldn’t load. So, yea, I’m always searching for an edge. All jokes aside, I would love a hint to an onion site that has reputable info that you can’t find on the surface web.

        Getting back to the topic, I would imagine by the time most people realize(d) their daily life is the product of social media, they are a lifetime too late. It’s become standard procedure to sign up for a Vons (grocery) Card, or any other “loyalty” card, to get those extra discounts, while every detail, down to how much toilet paper you plow through in a week, is compiled.

        When I hear about these auto companies whining about social media it just comes across as more drama. More theater.
        Don’t all of these companies have people dedicated to compiling as much oppo research as possible? Isn’t corporate espionage a thing?
        Unless there is some “White Hat / Black Hat” hack-a-thon about to kick off, I don’t understand what the issue is? The NSA has us all dead to rights anyways. Nothing is a secret. The Patent office is pay to play…and on and on and on we could go.
        Just stop giving him the % of ad budget you had allocated for Twitter. Done.

        By the time the public heard about the Musk/twitter deal, there had to be encrypted whispers in the air, right? So why didn’t these CEO’s act? Musk did. Did they all forget the primary objective – BE FIRST?
        I haven’t heard a peep/tweep/whatever until now. Is crying like a b*tch a C level strategy these days?

        Lastly, I don’t know how I missed that Mr. M is taking Twitter private. Unless, once again, I’m missing something (always possible/probable) couldn’t that be better, for the competitors, than having to risk another investor scooping up 10% or more of the company’s shares, gaining voting rights, and seat(s) on the board – in the public sector??

        The email address I use to post comments is real. You should see the junk-box. It’s raining girls, girls, girls, in there. I must be one lucky S-O-B! Wolf, when your significant other gives you a hall pass, let me know lol.

    • Nunya says:

      I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic. If you weren’t, then that is very naive to think. It’s not even conspiracy level stuff, it’s his company and he can do whatever the F__k he wants with it. He could share the code for the entire world to use. He could close ALL Tesla competitor’s account and block them from that type of advertising. He could rewrite the code to have bots promote the recalls and issues that are being shared on Twitter about Ford/GM/etc.

      Just think about it.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Yes, and we can see that because Tesla engineers started reviewing Twitter’s code on day one.

        No problem for Musk and Twitter, but it may be a separate problem for Tesla, which is publicly owned, if Tesla pays for its engineers while they’re working for Twitter. To get around any issues with Tesla shareholders, Tesla may bill Twitter for that work to make sure Tesla shareholders are happy with it. Just a formality that can be dealt with after the fact.

        • Ricky says:

          Ahh! Nice.
          The elegant structuring of disruption. I might actually start to pay attention to Twitter now!

        • Anonymous Coward says:

          Wolf, you keep mentioning Tesla engineers reviewing Twitter code, like it’s anything more than a stunt. (a) Tesla has a poor reputation for its actual code management and build pipeline. A friend was recruited there in a Devops role and I found a long thread that I shared with him (reddit maybe?) eviscerating the software development methodological chaos at Tesla. (b) Code review not something that could be done in a day or a week by outsiders. Would take months and months … and months.

          Frog marching Tesla software engineers into Twitter is a stunt. Just like everything else Elon does.

        • Anonymous Coward says:

          Actually found it on … drum roll please …
          Twitter.

  8. bulfinch says:

    No need to apologize, but…brilliant??!

    Brilliant was Henry Fox Talbot; Brilliant was Frank Lloyd Wright; Brilliant is that Marty Feldman album on Decca; Brilliant were those late-90’s Miller High Life commercials by Errol Morris; Brilliant was whoever invented the Hemi engine, the hot dog or fishnet stockings.

    • Old school says:

      Sometimes these things go down rabbit holes, but are fascinating stories. Honda motorcycles were getting beat on the track by 2 cycles. They understood physics enough to know they could not compete unless they thought out of the box and they figured out all of the manufacturing to make an “oval” piston. Even made a street bike, but it was too expensive so it went down into the history book.

  9. Mike R says:

    Imagine the data that Musk has access to on all sorts of companies and big brands that advertise on Twitter. It’s not just automotive makers alone that should be wondering what to do Musk. What Musk owns now, and what he could add to his empire in the future, could surprise a whole lot of corporations. If anyone knows what to do with data and how to monetize it, my money would be on Elon Musk.

    The mega billionaires and money he can handily attract, and have worldwide influence with is mind boggling. He’s gonna no doubt turn Twitter into a money making machine, and could easily surpass Alphabet and Apple both in terms of the genius and marketing prowess they currently possess. Both are marking time, living off their respective pasts. Musk is so incredibly forward thinking, in his approach to the world, it would be very unwise for any company to underestimate this man’s ambitions.

    Musk is going to have a field day with his new ‘toy’. Let that ‘sink’ in.

    • Nico says:

      Bingo

    • LeClerc says:

      Alphabet hired 32000 people in the past year.

      Their internal culture might be big-company oppressive, but the scale of their activities shows that they are far from ‘marking time.’

      Apple has the most advanced consumer-facing silicon design operation in the world. Nothing from Intel comes close to the performance of Apple’s M-series CPUs.

      Alphabet and Apple aren’t anywhere near declining productivity.

    • AB says:

      Mike R

      Musk is more likely to discover a multitude of fake bots. He’s massively overpaid for Twitter, which would be competing with Snap and Meta for a place on the Imploded Stocks list. Online advertising revenue is falling through the floor, stocks have much further to fall and Tesla is embarrassingly overpriced.

      Consumers are facing unprecedented headwinds from inflation, rising interest rates and falling asset prices. The employment picture can only deteriorate. How is anyone going to overcome these forces with a bank of online data and a 70% deficit in market cap. It was Musk’s very poorly timed bid that temporarily maintained Twitter’s market cap. Another bubble popped on Thursday. Let that sink in.

      The cult of personality might have overtaken your senses.

      • Harrold says:

        This might explain his comment that 75% could be laid off. He knows very well there will be backlash from woke advertisers. Not to mention reduced advertising in a recession. 75% is probably the level that keeps their expenses in line with revenues before new business ideas can take off.

        It should be pretty obvious he is looking at platforms like WhatsApp and preparing to copy all the search, phone, video calls and money transfers. Google, amazon and meta have enviable positions, but you could call them dinosaurs with their heavy load of fixed costs.

    • Old school says:

      I have no doubt Musk is talented, but my problem is he swims naked. No way Tesla was structured in a way to not go bankrupt in a bad recession. He gambled and he won, but that is not the type of company I want to invest in.

    • nick kelly says:

      Why did Musk try to back out? He knew he’d overpaid. He paid more even at the time of his offer, but over the next few months as he hemmed and hawed and trashed the site in an unsuccessful attempt to lower the price, the Fed jumped in and the market turned.

      Why did he proceed…because it was obvious the case would be won by Twitter, whose legal team was top notch. Then the judge turned down Musk’s last delay tactic and trial date was set for October. So he had to proceed, against his desire, which was to pass.

      One analyst puts Twitter’s value at maybe a third of 44 billion. By the way, what are the barriers to entry of a yap site where the users supply the product?

      And now just as a slew of competitors are presenting E-cars, the Feds have opened a CRIMINAL investigation into the most overhyped vaporware, Tesla’s claims that the car drives itself. Only apparently it doesn’t see motorcycles.

      • AB says:

        Legally, Twitter played it very well with patience and process.

        The Delaware Court wasn’t going to be toyed with. Someone earlier described this as “standing up to Musk”. Hardly. Musk’s lawyers would have dropped him on the spot if he didn’t respect the Court.

        The only contractual out for Musk was a bona fide failure in bank financing. The banks couldn’t be seen to be unable to fulfil their financing obligations or even have them questioned in a public and competent court.

        Game over. One of the worst acquisitions of all time, funded by the most overvalued company of all time.

        We don’t even talk about Microsoft overpaying for Activision.

  10. SocalJimObjects says:

    Netflix runs on AWS. The later is also Netflix’s competitor, first in the streaming video space, and pretty soon on the online ad space.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      That’s why Walmart stopped using AWS a few years ago and forced its contractors to stop using it.

      • Prairie Rider says:

        In the land of Formula One:
        Both F 1 and Ferrari are sponsored by AWS.
        Alpine Racing is sponsored by Microsoft.
        McLaren is with CHROME.
        Red Bull Racing has a Walmart sponsorship.

        Netflix has a popular series called ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive.’

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “Both F 1 and Ferrari are sponsored by AWS. Alpine Racing is sponsored by Microsoft.”

          NONE of these entities compete with Amazon the retailer.

          But Walmart competes directly with Amazon the retailer.

          Walmart has a huge ecommerce business that competes head-on and tooth-and-nail in a life-and-death struggle with Amazon’s retail business.

  11. SpencerG says:

    I never thought about this angle before… but Wolf is right. Elon Musk is FAMOUS for using one part of his empire to support another.

  12. polistra says:

    Leave it to a former car dealer to catch this point that nobody else was discussing or thinking about!

    For many decades GM owned the conversation about cars because it could afford lots of PR agents and spies… but GM never owned Associated Press.

    Twitter is the modern equivalent of AP, a service where all the journalists trade info.

  13. R2D2 says:

    Sounds like a storm in a teacup. Car companies engage in co-opetition all the time and rub along just fine. For example, Apple CarPlay for years has been grabbing eyeballs from GM in-car headunits — but both firms continue to operate well together. Not to mention the upcoming Apple Car project. Mechanical automotive players know they have to share the new digital world. They can no longer work alone.

    I predict GM and Twitter will work a deal in 2023. For example, GM ad data gets ringfenced in an independent storage company that Tesla or Musk cannot see. Twitter and GM will quietly find a solution.

    • cd says:

      plus he adds another 25 million users overnight by not being a woke insane owner

    • Wolf Richter says:

      R2D2,

      You overlooked a little detail: Apple doesn’t sell cars. Tesla does. To compare any Apple-automaker deal to any Twitter/Tesla-automaker deals is just silly.

  14. Logan Kane says:

    This is a good take! I wouldn’t have thought this on my own but it makes sense!

  15. phleep says:

    I get that Musk as a competitor is unique, and maybe this data premium makes up for some fraction of Musks’s grotesque overpayment and gamble here (as he tried to get out of this with all his might before the Delaware judge stood up to him). But if twitter’s data was so valuable, why was it languishing so much in market value? Musk himself portrayed it as failing. The whole thing is so incoherent and ad hoc, it might work but I think Musk in the most ad hoc possible way, bought a lot of moving parts at a silly nosebleed price with lots of slippery contingencies. He still seems to barely comprehend the challenges of moderation, too. No place for suspended adolescents. Hopefully he hires some brains on this (as with SpaceX, the one shining example of a sustained real world success so far, with some other stuff touted and quickly forgotten), because he seems to lack them in this domain.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Twitter was valued at $44 billion. That’s about 9x revenues. That’s HUGE. So obviously, people must have seen some value somewhere, because revenues were stagnant, and it had net losses the last two years. So maybe the data had this kind of value?

      Based on its performance, Twitter should have been trading below $10.

      • Remy says:

        And MCD trades about the same P/S and they have not innovated anything in 50 years. Not saying I agree with it, but it is, what it is.

        • Jon says:

          The magic of cheap money as instituted by Fed.

          If Musk has not put in the offer.. Twitter would have been trading at $10 or so like other social media companies.

      • I know Musk bought Twitter for $44B, but I wouldn’t say that is the true value. I think Musk just picked a high price because he thought it would be funny to have a price with a weed reference in it.

        Either something changed recently in Musk, or he has been hiding the fact that he has a few screws loose for years.

        I guess most people just get depressed when they hit middle age. When you are wealthy, you can knock up an employee and buy a company on a whim.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, just about everything he says and does has some kind of joke in it. In Twitter’s case, he was having such a blast and hoot that he thought it would be funny to sign a merger agreement without reading it.

  16. Aussie Andy says:

    GM should use Twitter to slag off Tesla’s. Wonder how long the free speech will last?..Trump should rejoin to promote his own handle… I really doubt Musk being the true warrior of free speech.

  17. Michael Engel says:

    1) The Indian locust are paying the price.
    2) The blue zone prevented Oct 1987 collapse.

  18. Ford and GM are already making all their profits off excess testerone, male buyers (ford 250 super duty) or at least buyers who identify with the incorrect political audience. Musk is after them [and their sense of entitlement]. The businessman wants to peddle his 700 hp EV pickup. The advertising synergy will be a lovefest. It may even consolidate political power in a way so far that hasn’t worked. We probably need more sports figures on Twitter. They’ll figure it out. It’s a microcosm of American madness.

  19. Michael Engel says:

    1) GM is fully committed to Lyric.
    2) Ilan might use Big$Mike platform.
    3) The elite might be shamed if they drive TSLA.
    4) The woke will try to dismantle Ilan the same way they attack their
    political rivals assets.
    5) FOX might pair with Ilan.

  20. Einhal says:

    Unrelated note, McDonald’s stock price action yesterday shows that the Fed is not anywhere near reining in the mania and everything bubble. Their results were good, sure. But for an established restaurant chain to have a P/E of 34 is absolute insanity. 34 means you are priced for double digit growth every year for the foreseeable future. I don’t see how a fast food restaurant can possibly get that.

    • Trucker Guy says:

      It’s easy to get that. The conspiracy nuts have been telling me the grocery shelves will go bare next week. For the last 150 weeks. It’s always just around the corner.

      When that does happen, we’ll all be eating our adult happy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just you wait. There will be a McDonalds in every home, complete with robot cashier/burger flipper.

    • Depth Charge says:

      All of the people crowing about an imminent recession were doing so to try to intimidate and scare Powell and the FED to pivot so they could continue to get more easy money. A monkey could have sat there and hit “buy” for the last 2.5 years and made a killing. They wanted easy street to last forever.

      But yeah, the raging mania is going strong. Traffic was, again, nasty today and everything packed to the absolute hilt on Halloween weekend. I saw large numbers of RVs on the interstate, and 18 wheelers are stacked up like cordwood. Recession? Hahahahaha! The disgusting Jerome Powell Moneyfest continues.

      • Anthony A. says:

        We had a 1/2 hour wait for seating at a local Denny’s this morning for breakfast. What was more amazing was watching the numerous take out orders leaving the place. Imagine, paying 50% more for cold eggs and has browns. No recession here.

    • Carmen says:

      It’s easy to get that: inflation.

  21. Remy says:

    Why bother advertising when you can not produce a product? Ford vaporware.

  22. raxadian says:

    Doesn’t Google / Alphabet make laptops and phones? Yet Google still gets about 70% to 80% of ad revenue online that yes includes ads for laptops and phones.

    The huge difference is, you can’t ignore Google to do online ads, is just too big.

  23. Zero Sum Game says:

    It’s pretty clear with MCD at 34 P/E and Twitter selling at 9x revenues, as others posted above, we will be seeing these absurd valuations deflate substantially over time if QT and rate hikes continue.

    Also as many here know, rationalizations for gigantic equity overvaluations became increasingly stretched with untenable mental gymnastics directly in proportion to lower interest rates and more QE money pumped into the system.

    The overall dynamic seems pretty clear and easy to understand, at least to me.

    • Einhal says:

      The problem is that people conflate “A company’s stock valuation is absurd” with “It’s a bad company.”

      Not at all. McDonald’s isn’t a bad company, nor is Microsoft. But their stock prices are not reasonable.

      • Old school says:

        There are two bad outcomes out there when you are debt saturated. One is you inflate the debt away with negative real rates and inflation runs high and MCD should get a single digit PE.

        The other is that you don’t inflate the debt away and you hang around in zirp land and rates can not get off zero like Japan and Eurozone. Then MCD can have a high PE because bonds pay zero

  24. JayW says:

    I just hope his trusted Tesla, SpaceX engineers find all sorts of issues with the code, bots, policies, etc.

    Big Tech must be held accountable for its anti-conservative bias. Having Musk move Twitter into the anti-political realm could go a long ways towards turning this tide.

  25. Lisa_Hooker says:

    There’s code, and then there’s code.

    Some code is beautiful with clear architectures, written to SEI and ISO standards. Some code is written in almost bulletproof languages like Ada. Some code is copiously littered with clear, understandable comments everywhere.

    Some code is built like a ball of coarse steel wool.

    Some code is statically compiled with the obfuscation switch set and stripped of labels. Pretty hard to run a debugger or disassembler.

    And some codes comes out of an SDL compiler. If you don’t have the source and the same compiler and environment, God help you.

    Musk’s engineers that are all over the code may just have obtained lifetime employment.

    I’ve been there and done that, and attempted to do that. Everyone does not get a trophy.

    • Anonymous Coward says:

      Then there’s Tesla code.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Irrelevant. Tesla didn’t write Twitter codes.

        • Anonymous Coward says:

          It’s not irrelevant, because Wolf keeps going on about Tesla engineers reviewing the Twitter code. Anyway my link was excised, showing a whistle blower revealing how bad Tesla’s devops process was (and probably still is).

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