Elon Musk could try to run three big companies at once – the last known CEO to do it is now an international fugitive


Elon Musk’s bid to take over Twitter could have an unwanted side effect for the billionaire: adding another major company to his overcrowded schedule.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has offered to buy every Twitter share he doesn’t already own — 90.8% of the company — in a deal worth about $43 billion, according to a regulatory filing released Thursday. The deal would add another one of the world’s largest companies to Musk’s ownership portfolio: Tesla and SpaceX are already a trillion-dollar and multi-billion dollar company, respectively.

Musk also owns two smaller startup companies, Neuralink and The Boring Company.

Even if Musk successfully buys Twitter and refuses to call himself CEO, it’s highly likely that he would want to influence the day-to-day operations of the company, potentially leading to a serious time crunch for the world’s richest person. And while it’s not unheard of to run three companies at once — Musk, who is the CEO of Neuralink, already does it — it’s almost unprecedented to run three of the world’s largest companies at once.

Here’s some good news for Musk: It’s been done before. The bad news is that none other than Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan and Renault, and ex-chairman of AvtoVaz and Mitsubishi, was the most recently known executive to attempt this feat.

Ghosn held senior positions at all four companies for a time, and held three in 2018 when he was arrested in Japan on charges of financial misconduct. Ghosn infamously fled to Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan, where he currently resides as an internationally wanted fugitive.

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In 2014, Ghosn told LinkedIn VP and editor and chief Daniel Roth in an interview that the key to his ability to run so many companies at once was to avoid multitasking. At the time, he said, his schedule was arranged more like a year in advance — and whatever country he was in would determine which company he focused on.

“I don’t mix the different responsibilities because I just want to make sure that the different teams in charge feel responsible and there is no confusion between the different companies,” Ghosn said.

Musk may think otherwise. Speaking at a 2018 SXSW panel, he said he divided his time effectively between his various ventures by hiring a strong team and allocating responsibilities to them appropriately. That way, he said, “almost all my time is spent on engineering and design.”

A timeshare leadership may look familiar to Twitter: Co-founder Jack Dorsey was CEO of both Twitter and his other start-up, payments company Square, from October 2015 to November 2021. Dorsey reportedly had a time management strategy on his hand. Own: He blocked the same times every week for leadership and employee meetings.

“I like having a lot of reps in my schedule,” Dorsey told Fast Company in 2016. “It allows us to see how we’re actually growing, rather than randomness, what that’s hiding.”

Ironically, Musk advised him against it when Dorsey initially took on both roles. “I wouldn’t recommend running two companies,” Musk said at the 2015 Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit. “It really does reduce your freedom quite a bit.”

The news of Musk’s filing comes more than a week after the billionaire’s status as Twitter’s largest outside shareholder, which owns 9.2% of the platform, was revealed. The next day, Twitter offered Musk a position on their board, with the proviso that he could not own more than 14.9% of the company’s outstanding shares. Five days later, the company reported that Musk had turned down the position.

In the filing announced Thursday, Musk — who has more than 81 million Twitter followers — said his motivation for buying the company is to unlock Twitter’s “extraordinary potential” to “build the free speech platform around the world.” to be.

“…and I believe that freedom of expression is a social necessity for a functioning democracy,” his note to the file reads. “Since making my investment, I now realize that the company in its current form will not thrive or serve this societal need. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”

Thursday afternoon, hours after his bid was posted on Twitter, Musk said at the TED2022 conference in Vancouver he was “not sure” whether his attempt would succeed. He noted that he had a backup plan, but did not specify what that plan entailed.

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