Elon Musk is one of the most famous South Africans, for several reasons. He has been the richest man in history, lost the biggest amount of money ever in a single day, started PayPal, and is the CEO of Tesla and Twitter. I think he is more of an ideas man and problem solver than an actual technical genius, but who knows. He certainly knows how to put his foot in it on social media though.
Musk is neurodiverse and so has difficulties with social cues, impulse control and boundaries. Even giving him leeway for that, this exchange was abominable. What on earth was he thinking?
… and then Elon REALLY puts his foot in it.
So he basically
- released confidential information
- fired someone for their disability
- did not realise who Halli actually is
But Halli’s reply is a thing of beauty. Calm but with spiky barbs lurking in each paragraph. Every time I read it I find another little sneaky jab.
After Elon put his foot in it, he discovered a few things about Icelandic Haraldur ‘Halli’ Thorleifsson
- as soon as Musk fired Halli, Twitter had to pay Halli $100 million. For this reason, Halli was on a do not fire list at Twitter.
- Halli had sold his company to Twitter but chose to take a salary as payment instead of a lump sum. Because by being salaried, he would pay more in tax to the Icelandic government, as support for the welfare system that helped him with his disability.
- Halli was Iceland’s Person of the Year in 2022, and Businessperson of the year in 2019, working tirelessly to get wheelchair ramps into as many places as possible in Iceland
Elon did an almost comic backpedal, posting this insincere apology shortly afterwards. The translation is probably ‘I was told this was going to be expensive’
You have to admire a man who remains cool and calm while taking down someone who didn’t understand his position.