Musk puts Twitter purchase in check and confirms Tesla workforce reduction
Billionaire leaves doubts about ‘unresolved issues’ in relation to the social network and says US recession is ‘inevitable’
Elon MuskO billionaire visionary and often unpredictable, took a sober tone on Tuesday as he predicted a likely US recession and cast doubt on his commitment to a $44 billion takeover of the twitter.
In an interview with Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha, Tesla’s CEO said the electric car maker’s workforce needs to be reduced as the supply chain stunts growth. He was also outspoken in his view that the US economy is heading for a contraction. It’s just a matter of when.
“A recession is inevitable at some point,” said Musk, who joined the Middle East forum via video from the US at 3 am New York time. “As for whether there is a short-term recession, that is more likely than not.”
Its pessimistic economic outlook follows similar projections by Nouriel Roubini and Goldman Sachs.
If Musk was unequivocal about his economic views, he left his stance on one of the most controversial deals of the year – his deal to buy Twitter – in doubt.
The richest man in the world said there are “some unresolved issues” and is still waiting for a resolution on how many bots – automated accounts – exist on the social media platform. The transaction cannot be completed until the matter is clarified and shareholders have approved the deal, Musk said.
“There is a limit to what I can say publicly,” he said. “It’s a bit of a sensitive subject.”
Musk’s reluctance or inability to fully endorse the deal will not dispel speculation that he is using the bot problem to try to undo the transaction.
With the US economy about to go into reverse, Musk acknowledged that it’s time to slow down Tesla’s expansion in some areas. He confirmed that the automaker’s salaried workforce will be reduced by around 10% over the next three months, resulting in an overall reduction of around 3.5% in total headcount.
He said he has ambitions to subscribe half the world’s population to Twitter if his takeover is approved.
The billionaire has emerged as a potential political force and said last week he voted Republican for the first time in the Texas primary. Musk has also indicated that he is leaning towards supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has positioned himself as a staunch conservative and political heir to former President Donald Trump.
But in the Doha interview, Musk declined to comment on his political positions for the presidential election.
“I’m undecided right now,” he said, when asked specifically if he would support Trump. Musk said, however, that he is willing to put a “non-trivial” amount of up to $25 million into a campaign fund.
Asked where he sees the most vibrant competition in electric vehicles, Musk said he was “very impressed with the car companies in China.”
“They are extremely competitive, hardworking and smart,” he said.
He also revealed that a team at Tesla is working to have a prototype humanoid robot ready by the end of September.
Asked about cryptocurrencies, he promised to support Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency created as a joke in 2013, because some of his employees asked.
SpaceX and Tesla, for example, bought some Bitcoin, “but it’s a small percentage of our cash,” Musk said. “I also bought some Dogecoin and Tesla accepts Dogecoin for some merchandise, and SpaceX will do the same.”
“And I intend to personally support Dogecoin because I know a lot of people who are not that rich who have encouraged me to buy and support Dogecoin.”
The Qatar Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Qatar Investment Authority and the Qatar Investment Promotion Agency are the underwriters of the Qatar Economic Forum, powered by Bloomberg. Media City Qatar is the host organization.