Elon Musk, no longer the world's richest after Tesla dive, has reportedly stopped Twitter's rent payments
Elon Musk officially lost his title as the world's wealthiest person on Tuesday as Tesla's shares — the main source of his fortune — fell another 4 percent, for a total loss in value of 54.3 percent this year, The Wall Street Journal reports. Investors and other stakeholders are increasingly expressing concern that Musk is spending all his time and energy on Twitter, which he bought for $44 billion in October, rather than Tesla and SpaceX.
Musk's antics at Twitter are also dragging down Tesla's brand image, Morning Consult and YouGov have found. About half of the electric automaker's stock losses have occurred since Musk completed his Twitter purchase in late October. Much of what Musk has done at Twitter since then is cut costs, controversially.
Among other things, Musk fired about half of Twitter's staff, pushed out other workers, made abrupt changes to the company's business model then pulled them back, and scared away advertisers with his erratic policy decisions on "free speech." In the past few days, Musk abruptly disbanded Twitter's trust and safety council and forced out Alex Spiro, his personal lawyer and the legal and policy chief he brought on after firing Twitter's lawyers, shifting those duties to a handful of SpaceX lawyers, The New York Times reports.
Musk's Twitter has also drawn scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission over possible breaches of a consent decree on user privacy and from San Francisco's Department of Building Inspection for evidently turning Twitter's headquarters into a quasi-hotel for "hardcore" workers who sleep at the office. And Musk also stopped paying vendors and rent for Twitter's San Francisco HQ or any of its other global offices weeks ago, the Times reports.
Since Twitter's workforce is much smaller now, "Musk's team has been hoping to renegotiate the terms of lease agreements," the Times explains. "The company has received complaints from real estate investment and management firms including Shorenstein, which owns the San Francisco buildings that Twitter occupies."
Musk's team is also considering not paying the severance it promised to thousands of people who have left Twitter since he took over, gambling it would cost less to settle lawsuits from former employees, the Times reports. You can read more about Musk's money-saving efforts — including auctioning off Twitter's industrial-grade kitchen equipment and electronics — at The New York Times.