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Elon Musk says he’ll step down as Twitter CEO after finding a replacement ‘foolish enough’

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NEW YORK - Elon Musk said on Tuesday he will step down as chief executive of Twitter after finding a replacement.

“I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams,” he wrote on Twitter.

This is the first time Mr Musk has mentioned stepping down as chief of the social media platform, after Twitter users voted decisively in a poll for him to step down, which the billionaire launched on Sunday evening.

Wall Street calls for him to step down had been growing for weeks and recently even Tesla bulls have questioned his focus on the social media platform and whether that is distracting him from properly steering the electric vehicle business, where he is central to product design and engineering.

Mr Musk has himself admitted he had too much on his plate, and said he would actively look for a Twitter CEO, after the billionaire lost a straw poll he posted on the social media site that asked users whether he should relinquish his role as head of the company.

He said on Sunday, though, that there was no successor and that “no one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive”.

More than 10 million votes, or 57.5 per cent, were in favour of Mr Musk stepping down, according to results that came in Monday morning.

Mr Musk committed to abide by the results when he launched the survey, but nearly a day later he had tweeted more than 10 times without directly addressing the outcome.

Mr Musk responded to a tweet suggesting the poll may have been manipulated by bots with a single word: “interesting.”

But polling company HarrisX on Tuesday tweeted out their own poll of Twitter users, in which 61 per cent of respondents voted to keep Mr Musk as CEO.

“Interesting. Suggest that maybe we might still have an itsy bitsy bot problem on Twitter...” Mr Musk said in a response.

HarrisX said the findings “debunk” the vote on Twitter, adding that the poll was run independently of “Twitter or any Elon Musk related organisations.”

Mr Musk has used the Twitter polls to take controversial decisions on the platform, including the reinstatement of the account of former US president Donald Trump and other suspended users.

Announcing a new policy move in one of his first tweets after the poll, Mr Musk said Twitter will restrict voting on major policy decisions to paying Twitter Blue subscribers.

Responding to a Blue member going by the name Unfiltered Boss, Mr Musk agreed with the suggestion that only subscribers should have a voice in future policy and said, “Twitter will make that change.”

Twitter Blue had attracted about 140,000 subscribers as of Nov 15, the New York Times has reported.

Earlier, the billionaire pledged to submit all future policy decisions to a vote and offered Twitter users a choice on leadership, asking them if he should step down from the top leadership position at the company he bought in October for US$44 billion (S$60 billion).

Mr Musk’s dramatic offer came shortly after he attended the World Cup final match in Qatar, triggering a wave of trending topics such as “VOTE YES” and “CEO of Twitter.”

He did not identify an alternative leader, and went so far as to say anyone capable of doing the job would not want it.

Mr Musk has warned that Twitter is at risk of bankruptcy and instituted a “hardcore” work environment for the remaining workers after a drastic cutback in staff. In his less than two months at the helm, he has spooked advertisers, alienated Twitter’s most ardent creators and turned the service from a reflection of the news of the day into the main topic.

After losing the initial poll, Mr Musk, who is also chief executive officer of Tesla, retweeted promotional material for the car company and for Twitter’s Blue for Business service.

He also responded to an article about rival Toyota Motor’s criticism of electric vehicles with a simple “Wow.”

The stock of Tesla, by far Mr Musk’s most valuable holding, has plummeted since the Twitter acquisition and critics have argued he’s spending too much time on the social media company. - BLOOMBERG, AFP