Yury Molodtsov

COO and Partner @ MA Family, where we run communications for tech startups and VC firms.

About Me
Twitter ↗
Mastodon ↗

What Is Elon Musk

I’m a bit tired of how people let their existing opinion on Elon paint their entire image of him yet I myself struggle to define his actions.

July 25, 2023

Too often, we see two distant sides of the spectrum and nothing in between.

Some people (often with blue checks on Twitter) believe he is the most successful businessman on Earth, and we’re literally months away from using Twitter (sorry, X.com) to run our financial lives. That he will finally build the WeChat of the West.

Others believe he’s a rich trust fund kid who stumbled into founding many successful companies changing their industries. These people tell you that he merely invested in Tesla and not found it (which is true, but Tesla didn’t really have much except a great brand and a complicated captable), that SpaceX engineers are the actual heroes lifting all the weight (which is a useless statement since it can be applied to any organization).

Trying to project him into a single dimension is useless since it doesn’t have predictive power. You might believe he’s a fraudster, but many Tesla short sellers also believed this and lost.

It does seem to me the truth is somewhere in between. But reasonable takes don’t get too much engagement.

Elon has done so many stupid things at Twitter. And while trying to revitalize the platform while making it financially successful is an enormous challenge, I thought there were some more obvious things he could have done instead.

Then, Ben Thompson comes out today with a great explanation on Dithering and Stratechery.

I have made the case, including on today’s episodes of Dithering and Sharp Tech, that the same qualities that make Musk a remarkable CEO in physical space — the willingness to push to the limits of what is possible, with physics as a natural governor — make him a terrible software CEO, because there are no limits. But the reality is that for Musk personally it doesn’t matter much.

And this seems to be it. In the physical world, Elon’s fantasy is limited by science, and if he wants to run the next Falcon on palm oil, it just won’t work. The software has limitations but is more subtle – you can still build almost any interface you want. Of course, all of his actions affect Twitter as a platform and nibble at its network effects while also incentivizing many competitors, including Threads, Mastodon, and BlueSky.

If you want to predict the actions of certain people, avoid painting them stupid or blatantly evil right away, as this is likely to be an emotional response that won’t improve your hand.


Esther Crawford wrote on her experience working at Twitter before and after Elon took over. You might know her from some terrible coverage attacking her personally. She’s a great founder who joined Twitter after selling them her company.

The key part seems to be this:

Elon has an exceptional talent for tackling hard physics-based problems but products that facilitate human connection and communication require a different type of social-emotional intelligence.

Comment on Twitter

If you liked this post, subscribe to get new content right in your inbox!

Read More

  • Basecamp is a Contrarian Marketing Operation

    Basecamp is well-known not because of its product but because its founders heavily leverage marketing and communications, eventually turning into contrarian marketing machines producing edgy posts and starting crusades just to get everyone’s attention.

  • Web Apps Are Better Than No Apps

    There’s a certain community in tech that’s very vocal about their preference toward native apps. I share that sentiment, yet sometimes people take this idea too religiously. Unfortunately, the actual choice is about having an app or not, and I'd rather take something over nothing.

  • Sorry, But Google Meet Is Better Than Zoom

    It seems that we're finally getting out of this weird period of collective gaslighting where people tried to convince everyone Zoom was the best conference app out there.

  • Finalist: A Simpler To-do App

    Finalist is built for people who liked keeping all their tasks in Apple Notes but wanted it just a bit more structured.

  • Omnivore Review: An Underrated Read-Later App

    I sometimes see people using Pocket, Instapaper, or Safari’s Reading List even though all of them have been practically abandoned and the first two definitely don’t deserve a subscription. I reviewed Readwise Reader and Matter earlier, but they only work properly if you pay. It’s not for everyone, so I wanted to tell you about Omnivore, a rapidly-developed read-later app.