Innovation

Why Elon Musk and others are rallying to support Jack Dorsey

The Twitter CEO is under pressure.

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Elon Musk joined a movement Tuesday to keep Jack Dorsey as Twitter's CEO, as the head of the social network faces moves to remove him from his position.

Here's why Musk backs Jack:

Musk is best-known for heading up Tesla and SpaceX, posted on Twitter a message of support: "Just want say that I support @Jack as Twitter CEO. He has a good ❤️." Musk is an avid user of the platform, using it to regularly announce new product features and share memes. At the time of writing, he has nearly 32 million followers and ranks as the 52nd most-followed user on the website.

Musk was joined by Twitter employees, which helped to fuel a trending hashtag "WeBackJack."

TJ Adeshola described him as a "special leader," while Ola Idowu wrote that she "can’t wait for the day when [he] receives a Nobel Peace Prize and the rest of the world finally sees what we see in him."

The messages came as CNBC reports that Dorsey faces moves to remove him as CEO. Dorsey co-founded Twitter in 2006 and served as CEO until 2008, returning to the position in 2015.

Heading this movement against him is Paul Singer, founder of hedge fund Elliott Management. Singer has amassed a stake of more than $1 billion in the company, and has also nominated four new members to the board. The investor is reportedly concerned about Dorsey splitting his time between Twitter and Square, the financial services firm where Dorsey also serves as CEO.

Singer's concern was also reportedly sparked by Dorsey's plans to move to Africa. In November 2019, Dorsey posted from Ethiopia's Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Dorsey wrote that he was "sad to be leaving the continent…for now. Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020. Grateful I was able to experience a small part."

The Guardian also notes that Singer is a key donor to the Republican Party. Although previously against president Donald Trump, he later changed his position and became a supporter. Trump is a key user of Twitter with over 73 million followers.

Dorsey's plan to move to Africa as part of the bitcoin future fits with his support of cryptocurrency. In August 2017 he described the blockchain ledger technology as "the next big unlock." In March 2018 he declared that "the world ultimately will have a single currency, the internet will have a single currency," and that currency would be bitcoin. Three months later, Square received a coveted "BitLicense" to enable its Cash App to buy and sell bitcoin in New York State.

Analyst response to Dorsey's plans were mixed, with some praising him for exploring a potentially key market for cryptocurrency and others questioning how he would manage the companies remotely.

“This could provide them with a strong perspective on Africa, and a first-mover advantage in a market that will likely be very dominant in payments over the next decades,” Macquarie senior payments analyst Dan Dolev told CNBC. “I don’t see any issues, only opportunities.”

Musk's praise for Dorsey was not without clarification. Twitter user "Everyday Astronaut" responded to the post by drawing attention to issues around bots and verification. Musk has previously suffered from waves of accounts posing as himself to encourage users to participate in cryptocurrency scams.

"This is vital," Musk wrote in response to the "Everyday Astronaut" post.

Musk himself has previously faced calls to step down from positions of power. A proposal by Jing Zhao in February 2018 would have removed Musk as chairman of Tesla, to be replaced by an independent director, while Musk kept his other title of CEO.

While the proposal failed at the June shareholder meeting, Musk ended up stepping down as chairman in October anyway. This move was part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, after Musk controversially announced he had the funding secured to take Tesla private – a declaration he made on Twitter, no less.

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