Elon Musk owning Twitter is a terrible idea – and he probably knows it

Why does Elon Musk want to buy Twitter?

It's the question everyone is asking Thursday morning after the billionaire entrepreneur, Tesla CEO, and serial pot-stirrer made a $ 43 billion take it or leave it offer to the Twitter board.

“If it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” Musk said, according to the Wall Street Journal. That's tantamount to, Let me play as captain or I take my ball and go home.

In typical cheeky fashion, Musk tweeted about the potential deal with echos of The Godfather: “I made an offer”

But why is he doing this?

To understand, we need to rewind a bit. A few weeks ago, Musk started complaining about Twitter as not being a bastion of free speech and ran a poll.

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Musk was airing a common frustration among some Twitter users who complain they're shadow-banned for speaking their minds on the platform. While 70% of his respondents said, “No,” I saw the poll as a flawed exercise in self-selection. Musk's 84 million Twitter followers are often devotees to his particular brand of libertarian maverickism.

Twitter, which is not a government body but in fact a private company, has no compunction to follow the rules of free or balanced speech. Instead, as a private company, it has to protect its users from harm to both themselves and others. It has, as a private company, the right to remove people and their posts as they see fit (if they go outside the platform's published terms of use).

This is somewhat beside the point because I think Musk knows this but just lives to stir the pot and get people thinking – or maybe thinking like him.

He later pressed the point and insisted that Twitter's role as a public town square meant it had to adhere to free speech principles, lest it undermines democracy. 

Again, Twitter is not just a US platform. It operates around the world, even in places that do not support democracy. Musk knows this, but he has pressed on.

Eventually, Musk bought 9.4% of Twitter's shares, joined the board, and then unjoined it before he could, but basically won the right to have outsized influence and hinted he might go further.

Now we know his true intentions. Musk seeks to own and control Twitter outright.

But for what purpose?

What's next?

If Twitter's board accepts this Faustian bargain, it will see a significant portion of Twitter's workforce leave. Musk must know this, as well. Does he hope to replace a depleted knowledge workforce with like-minded Muskians?

Let's say he gets his way and takes ownership. How quickly will Musk acknowledge that Twitter is not in fact just a US-based town square and that using the Constitution as a template for a TOS cannot work for a private, globalized company?

Elon Musk runs Telsa around the world. He sells electric cars to people around the world. A huge chunk of his Twitter followers probably live outside the United States and may dream of living in a democracy where private companies are not beholden to state interests as they are in China.

What is Musk's game here?

I know what he's said in public, but Elon Musk is no dummy and he must know how this plays out. It does not end well for Twitter, but perhaps that's the point. This is just another feint in the game where Musk treats his billions like Monopoly money, sliding orange $ 500 notes from out under the board, throwing them on the table, and demanding Park Place when he really wants Boardwalk. Or maybe he does want them both… then what?

By the time you read this, Twitter may have already rejected Musks' offer, and Musk, as he is wont to do, may have sold off his shares and walked away.

Will he also walk away from Twitter? Probably, but expect him back in six months.

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Dreaming of Nintendo Switch? Nintendo’s next idea could be a sleep-tracking device

Nintendo has filed a patent for a new sleep-tracking device that will monitor how well you slept, and even produce pleasing aromas. 

In typical Nintendo fashion, the device would represent a new take on the growing sleep-tracking market with a host of novel features. According to the patent, the device could beam soothing images to your ceiling using an in-built projector (counting sheep mini-game, anyone?), along with the tracking information from your previous night’s slumber.

Perhaps most intriguing, though, is the device’s ability to produce a variety of smells to help either induce or disturb your beauty sleep. Sleep mists aren’t exactly new, and diffusers have become a common sight in most households, but if Nintendo has discovered that we all sleep better when a room is filled with the smell of Mario’s freshly washed dungarees, then we’re all for it.

The mobile device, which sits in a base station by your bed, also includes a Doppler sensor that can pick up your breathing, pulse and body movement. It has a detachable element (which looks like a phone) that will track your activity over the course of the day and sync the data back to the base station if it’s close by. 

The patent was filed last September and was recently made public (thanks, Japanese Nintendo). The sleep-tracking device might never come to fruition, of course, but clearly Nintendo believes it’s an idea that’s worth protecting.

Some diagrams from the Nintendo patent. 

Switch it up

Nintendo has been very clear about its ambition to enter the health-related space. During the Wii U era, Nintendo revealed it was working on a ‘quality-of-life’ peripheral, but nothing has surfaced since that initial announcement which was more than five years ago.

Nintendo has had great success with its fitness-focused game Ring Fit Adventure and the Nintendo Switch in general, but this patent points at an entirely new piece of hardware that serves a specific purpose.

Sleep like a Snorlax

Nintendo’s new patent isn’t the only sleep-tracking device we’ve heard about recently from the video games industry. The Pokémon company also announced its own sleep-tracking app, Pokémon Sleep, which would link up with its incredibly popular mobile app, Pokémon Go. The app would require a new Pokémon Go Plus accessory, and users would place it next to their pillow each night. However, no further details have been revealed since its announcement in 2019.

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