Elon Musk says he’s stepping down as Twitter CEO - but don’t celebrate just yet

Cartoon of Elon Musk with flaming dollar bills in the background
(Image credit: OA_Creation / thongyhod / Shutterstock)

Well, we had a good run, folks. No, wait, sorry - it was a catastrophically bad run, a rollercoaster without brakes that caused all kinds of assorted chaos and misery for people who just wanted to, you know, use Twitter like a normal social media platform.

Twitter owner and chief executive Elon Musk has announced in a tweet (because of course he did it in a tweet) that he plans to step down as CEO of the social media giant, revealing that his replacement - an unnamed woman - will be taking over in around six weeks’ time.

Musk added that he plans to stick around in an operational capacity, being “exec chair & CTO, overseeing product, software & sysops”. That sounds like quite a lot of stuff, but then again, Musk didn’t exactly do much as Twitter’s CEO either - other than costing himself $24 billion dollars, I guess.

There have been rumblings that Musk was looking for a replacement for a while now, and Tesla shareholders have reportedly been putting pressure on him to focus more on the electric car firm than Twitter, so this isn’t entirely unsurprising. According to CNBC, Tesla shares jumped 2% immediately after the announcement.

Should I stay or should I go?

I’m not convinced, though. Remember when Musk posted a Twitter poll saying he’d step down as CEO if the user base voted for him to go? We voted him out, and he wormed his way out of that one by blaming bots and saying that he’d limit Twitter polls to users subscribed to Twitter Blue (which he hasn’t done).

The simple fact is that the self-styled Tony Stark hasn’t really abided by a lot of the things he’s said he would since purchasing Twitter for $44 billion back in October 2022. We’ve seen a lot of things promised which haven’t materialized - though I hope some of his plans never see the light of day, like his invasive plans for phone call functionality that threaten to make Twitter unusable for women.

It’s telling that he refers to the social media platform as ‘X/Twitter’ in his announcement. Musk has made no secret of his desire to make Twitter (or ‘X’ as he wants it to be known) the ‘everything app’, folding a variety of features into it as part of a bold reimagining that, uh, basically just copies WhatsApp.

Elon Musk and Twitter

Twitter was valued at around $20 billion last month - less than half of what Musk purchased it for back in late 2022. (Image credit: Getty Images)

X gon' give it to ya

If Musk truly is handing over the reins to a new CEO then his tweet suggests he’s going to be focusing less on running the business side of things and more on the software side; meaning he could finally push through the transition to ‘X’ that he so desperately wants.

Is that really a good thing, though? Musk simply hasn’t been able to make the social media app profitable, despite attempts to force users to pay for Twitter Blue and squeeze businesses to access the Twitter API.

In fact, Elon has been driving the site further and further into the ground - due, in part, to a fundamental misunderstanding of what made Twitter appealing in the first place. His addition of 10,000-character-long tweets (only for users who cough up the cash for Blue, mind) demonstrates a total lack of awareness of Twitter’s core appeal: social media reduced to bitesize, easily digestible chunks.

In a world where almost every social media platform is gradually morphing into the same homogeneous blur of ten-second video reels manufactured to maximize engagement, Twitter stands out as something different, something unique. Musk has been threatening to ruin that, and his moving over to a more operational role rather than the company’s figurehead could actually be a bad thing for the future of Twitter.

As for who’ll be sitting in the CEO chair, there are suspicions floating around (as reported by The Verge) that Musk’s replacement will be NBC advertising exec Linda Yaccarino, who reportedly wants the job and gets along well with the Tesla CEO. I don’t want to get overly political here, but Yaccarino is apparently a certified Trump supporter… I’m sure that will go down well on Twitter.

Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.