Recently I was looking at a credible pollster, who had asked people if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a dozen or so public figures. They were all underwater— more unfavorables than favorables— except one. Sickeningly that that one is Elon Musk, the only public figure polled who had more favorables than unfavorables. Jesus, people are idiots.
Maybe they read the CNN report, Elon Musk has officially killed Twitter. The zombie platform lives on as X, a disfigured shell of its former self, and liked it. Oliver Darcy, who wrote it, wasn’t impressed. In fact, he referred to Musk as “unhinged in the first sentence.. or the second sentence if you count “Bye bye, birdie” as a sentence.
“A zombie Twitter,” wrote Darcy, “known only as X, reluctantly endures. A warped and disfigured platform, X marches on like a White Walker, an ugly shell of its former self under the command of a loathsome leader. Whereas Twitter was once a fountain of authoritative information, X is a platform where trolls can pay a small fee to have their ugly content boosted ahead of reputable sources.”
X is a platform where identity verification no longer exists and impersonation is only a paid subscription away.
X is a platform where journalists are banned and smeared while the most repellant and dishonest voices are elevated.
X is a platform where the rules are unclear and content moderation is largely an idea of the past.
X is a platform where the most important and consequential decisions are made on a whim and can happen without any warning.
And X is a platform where vital infrastructure is crumbling and the most basic of features often fail to function.
X might resemble Twitter. It might occupy the same address on the internet that Twitter once did. But make no mistake, it is not the same platform it once was— even as recently as nine months ago, when Musk took over, quickly decapitated the former leadership, and threw the company into chaos and turmoil.
That platform has ceased to be. It arguably died some time ago, before it was announced to the public by way of a sudden and disorderly rebranding.
In many ways, Musk has done to Twitter what Donald Trump did to the Republican Party: wholly remade it in his own image. At least, with Musk, the deformed entity is getting a different name, one that allows the public to perhaps separate Twitter from what Musk has transformed it into.
X will, of course, inherit all of Twitter’s business problems. Musk is the entity that has proven toxic to advertisers and much of the user base, not the widely recognized bird logo. How the billionaire ultimately turns that ship around is unclear, particularly as he faces new competition from Mark Zuckerberg and Threads.
So far, however, there is little hope Musk will be able to successfully steer the ship out of iceberg-ridden waters. He is, after all, the captain who led the ship into them— all while manically laughing alongside his inner circle while standing at the wheel.
Thanks to handouts, first from his wealthy father and later from the U.S. government, South Africa-born Musk is the wealthiest person on earth (almost a quarter trillion dollars). He went to a bunch of colleges in Pretoria and in Canada before getting a bachelor’s degree from the same school Trump went to University of Pennsylvania and later a went to Stanford for 2 days before dropping out, starting a software company, Zip2, and selling it to Compaq for $307 million 3 years later. He used the money to found horribly-run ripoff outfit PayPal. When eBay bought PalPal for a billion and a half dollars, Musk was on his way. In 2004 he started buying out Tesla and by 2008 he controlled it and named himself CEO.
This week, Reuters released a special report on how shady Tesla has been since Musk took over. I almost bought one ‘til I figured out who he is. Steve Strecklow and Norihiko Shirouzu wrote that “About a decade ago, Tesla rigged the dashboard readouts in its electric cars to provide ‘rosy’ projections of how far owners can drive before needing to recharge, a source told Reuters. The automaker last year became so inundated with driving-range complaints that it created a special team to cancel owners’ service appointments.” The underperformance was so severe that customers were getting less than half the range they were led to believe the car could get on a charge. “Tesla employees had been instructed to thwart any customers complaining about poor driving range from bringing their vehicles in for service. Last summer, the company quietly created a ‘Diversion Team’ in Las Vegas to cancel as many range-related appointments as possible. The Austin, Texas-based electric carmaker deployed the team because its service centers were inundated with appointments from owners who had expected better performance based on the company’s advertised estimates and the projections displayed by the in-dash range meters of the cars themselves, according to several people familiar with the matter.”
“Elon wanted to show good range numbers when fully charged,” the person said, adding: “When you buy a car off the lot seeing 350-mile, 400-mile range, it makes you feel good.”
Tesla’s intentional inflation of in-dash range-meter projections and the creation of its range-complaints diversion team have not been previously reported.
Driving range is among the most important factors in consumer decisions on which electric car to buy, or whether to buy one at all. So-called range anxiety – the fear of running out of power before reaching a charger – has been a primary obstacle to boosting electric-vehicle sales
…Tesla was fined earlier this year by South Korean regulators who found the cars delivered as little as half their advertised range in cold weather. Another recent study found that three Tesla models averaged 26% below their advertised ranges.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required Tesla since the 2020 model year to reduce the range estimates the automaker wanted to advertise for six of its vehicles by an average of 3%. The EPA told Reuters, however, that it expects some variation between the results of separate tests conducted by automakers and the agency.
…By last year, sales of Tesla’s electric vehicles were surging. The company delivered about 1.3 million cars in 2022, nearly 13 times more than five years before.
As sales grew, so did demand for service appointments. The wait for an available booking was sometimes a month, according to one of the sources familiar with the diversion team’s operations.
Tesla instructs owners to book appointments through a phone app. The company found that many problems could be handled by its “virtual” service teams, who can remotely diagnose and fix various issues.
Tesla supervisors told some virtual team members to steer customers away from bringing their cars into service whenever possible. One current Tesla “Virtual Service Advisor” described part of his job in his LinkedIn profile: “Divert customers who do not require in person service.”
Such advisors handled a variety of issues, including range complaints. But last summer, Tesla created the Las Vegas “Diversion Team” to handle only range cases, according to the people familiar with the matter.
The office atmosphere at times resembled that of a telemarketing boiler room. A supervisor had purchased the metallophone – a xylophone with metal keys – that employees struck to celebrate appointment cancellations, according to the people familiar with the office’s operations.
Advisers would normally run remote diagnostics on customers’ cars and try to call them, the people said. They were trained to tell customers that the EPA-approved range estimates were just a prediction, not an actual measurement, and that batteries degrade over time, which can reduce range. Advisors would offer tips on extending range by changing driving habits.
If the remote diagnostics found anything else wrong with the vehicle that was not related to driving range, advisors were instructed not to tell the customer, one of the sources said. Managers told them to close the cases.
Tesla also updated its phone app so that any customer who complained about range could no longer book service appointments, one of the sources said. Instead, they could request that someone from Tesla contact them. It often took several days before owners were contacted because of the large backlog of range complaints, the source said.
The update routed all U.S. range complaints to the Nevada diversion team, which started in Las Vegas and later moved to the nearby suburb of Henderson. The team was soon fielding up to 2,000 cases a week, which sometimes included multiple complaints from customers frustrated they couldn't book a service appointment, one of the people said.
The team was expected to close about 750 cases a week. To accomplish that, office supervisors told advisers to call a customer once and, if there was no answer, to close the case as unresponsive, the source said. When customers did respond, advisers were told to try to complete the call in no more than five minutes.
In late 2022, managers aiming to quickly close cases told advisors to stop running remote diagnostic tests on the vehicles of owners who had reported range problems, according to one of the people familiar with the diversion team’s operations.
“Thousands of customers were told there is nothing wrong with their car” by advisors who had never run diagnostics, the person said.
A decade ago, Musk urged California to give up on high-speed rail because his company, The Boring Company, ws building a hyperloop that could get people from L.A. to San Francisco in half an hour… and from NYC to Beijing in about 2 hours. In 2012 he said he’d have to L.A.-San Fran connection done by 2022 and cost just $6 billion. He planned to have a hyper loop capsule departing from L.A. every 45 seconds for just $20/passenger. Meanwhile they built 2 tunnels that could be measured in yards, not miles and one’s— in L.A. has already been filled in and the other, in Hawthorne, was torn down and turned into a parking garage for SpaceX employees. The Verge reported last year that “[I]n the last few years, Musk’s Hyperloop ambitions have been severely scaled back. His original proposal for an underground transit system, with magnetically levitating shuttles traveling through nearly airless tubes at speeds of up to hundreds of miles an hour, has been replaced with tunnels that can only accommodate Tesla vehicles. Other Hyperloop startups have shut down or pivoted to cargo shipments. Meanwhile, Musk’s Boring Company has been working to build out a system of tunnels underneath Las Vegas for a few years now, while the company’s efforts to dig in other cities, like Chicago, Los Angeles, and the Northeast Corridor, have fizzled.”
Based on his behavior, many people have wondered if Musk was on the autism spectrum. In May, 2021 he hosted Saturday Night Live and disclosed that he was the first person with Asperberger’s Syndrome to have had that role. A Twitter executive who dealt with him, cruelly referred to him as literally special needs” and “a looney tune.”