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Elon Musk sounds off on ‘inevitable’ recession, Twitter deal and Trump


“There’s a limit to what I can say publicly,” he said. “It is somewhat of a sensitive matter.”

Musk’s reluctance, or inability, to fully endorse the deal won’t dispel speculation that he’s using the bot issue to potentially blow up the transaction. Musk has said he wanted to put the takeover “on hold” while he investigated how many of Twitter’s users are real people. He has filed a formal letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he told Twitter executives he might walk away from the deal if the company didn’t do more to prove the size of its user base.

With the US economy poised to go into reverse, Musk acknowledged it’s time to slow Tesla’s expansion in some areas. He provided clarity on the Austin, Texas-based electric-car company’s job cuts, confirming the salaried workforce will be reduced by about 10 per cent over the next three months, resulting in an overall reduction of around 3.5 per cent in total headcount. Hourly staff numbers are still expected to grow, Musk said.

Musk reluctance, or inability, to fully endorse the deal won’t dispel speculation that he’s using the bot issue to potentially blow up the transaction.

Musk reluctance, or inability, to fully endorse the deal won’t dispel speculation that he’s using the bot issue to potentially blow up the transaction.Credit:Bloomberg

“We grew very fast on the salaried side and we grew a little too fast in some areas,” he said in the interview.

Musk, who has an estimated personal fortune of $USUS206 billion, wasn’t all gloom and doom.

He laid out a far-reaching ambition to sign up half the world’s population to Twitter if his acquisition goes through. That’s even greater than his vision to get to 1 billion users, which he outlined to Twitter staff last week. The platform currently has about 229 million users.

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Musk told the forum he would focus on “driving the product” at Twitter though he doesn’t necessarily plan to be the CEO if he buys the company.

The billionaire has emerged as a potential political force, and said last week he voted Republican for the first time in the primary election in Texas. Musk has also indicated that he’s leaning toward Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has positioned himself as a staunch conservative and heir apparent to former US president Donald Trump.

‘Undecided’ on backing Trump

Still, in the interview in Doha, Musk refused to be drawn on his political allegiances ahead of the presidential election.

“I’m undecided at this point,” he said, when specifically asked whether he’d back Trump. Musk did say, though, that he’s willing to put a “non-trivial” amount of as much as $US25 million in a super PAC.

Musk said Tesla’s salaried workforce will be reduced by about 10 per cent over the next three months, resulting in an overall reduction of around 3.5 per cent in total headcount.

Musk said Tesla’s salaried workforce will be reduced by about 10 per cent over the next three months, resulting in an overall reduction of around 3.5 per cent in total headcount.Credit:Bloomberg

Asked where he sees the most vibrant competition in electric vehicles, Musk said he was “very impressed with the car companies in China and just in general, with companies in China.”

“They’re extremely competitive, hardworking, and smart,” he said, adding that consumers can probably expect to see even more China-made products flowing from the world’s manufacturing powerhouse than there are now.

The audience also got a glimpse of Musk the futurist. A Tesla team is working to have a prototype humanoid robot ready by the end of September, he said.

Dogecoin, Bitcoin

Asked about cryptocurrencies, Musk rebuffed a suggestion that he himself had said people should invest. But he pledged to support Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency created as a joke in 2013, because some of his employees have asked him to.

SpaceX and Tesla, for example, did buy some Bitcoin, “but it’s a small percentage of our total cash and near-cash assets,” Musk said. “I also bought some Dogecoin and Tesla accepts Dogecoin for some merchandise, and SpaceX will do the same.”

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“And I intend to personally support Dogecoin because I just know a lot of people who are not that wealthy who, you know, have encouraged me to buy and support Dogecoin.”

Bloomberg

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