Musk dodges Twitter questions in hot Sun Valley speech

At least one attendee present sympathised with Musk’s decision to avoid discussing the deal, citing the pending litigation.
Elon Musk. Image: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg

The collapse of Elon Musk’s Twitter Inc. deal made the billionaire’s appearance at Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley Conference an even hotter ticket, but ultimately it left many attendees cold.

He declined to answer questions on the deal, though he did reiterate gripes over the company’s treatment of former President Donald Trump and how it shares user data. For many of those who had extended their stays in Sun Valley, Idaho, to listen to Musk, it was probably a disappointment, according to people at the closed-door session.

Instead, he took to the stage Saturday, less than 24 hours after scrapping his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, and spent much of the time outlining his vision for mankind’s future on Mars, the people said, asking not to be identified.

In the marquee address — typically reserved for the likes of legendary investors such as Warren Buffett — the SpaceX chief executive officer called Mars a “civilian life insurance” policy should disaster hit on Earth. The planet is necessary as a platform for human life to go on, when the sun eventually burns out, Musk added.

Musk has long been a proponent of colonising Mars, tweeting earlier this year about a possible human landing by 2029. SpaceX investors were in attendance at the Sun Valley conference, some of whom stayed for Musk’s address. The private company’s valuation has surged in its most recent funding round.

During the session, Musk was questioned on Twitter by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, whose organization has worked closely with the world’s richest man. Musk was formerly on OpenAI’s board and has made sizable donations to the research company, which works to make artificial intelligence a benefit to society. Musk continues to be an adviser to OpenAI.

In a filing Friday, Musk accused Twitter of misrepresenting user data and of not complying with “contractual obligations” to provide information about how to assess the prevalence of bots on the social media network. His decision to walk away from the deal sets the stage for an arduous court brawl, with Twitter vowing minutes after the filing landed to fight back in court.

Hesitation

At least one attendee present sympathised with Musk’s decision to avoid discussing the deal, citing the pending litigation. A few attendees said they had mulled investing in Twitter’s stock in anticipation of the deal, however they hesitated due to the volatile nature of Musk and the reality that he may pull out of an agreement.

Musk did speak about the need for Twitter to share its algorithms and be more transparent on user data. He reiterated that he believed Trump needed a “time out” from the platform rather than the lifetime ban imposed after the former president encouraged supporters to march on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

During his appearance, Musk also spoke about his unhappiness at President Joe Biden’s administration for snubbing him and Tesla Inc. with its electric-vehicle push. The billionaire, who tweeted in May that he is no longer supporting the Democrats and will instead vote Republican, has been ratcheting up criticisms of the current White House.

At the conference on Thursday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal didn’t respond to a question from Bloomberg on whether he’s worried about Musk walking away from the deal.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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