After Disney came out in opposition to the “don’t say gay” bill a little over a month ago, this past Thursday amid growing calls by conservatives for action to be taken against Disney, the state of Florida removed a special tax status Disney has enjoyed for over 50 years. This effectively ended the media giant’s ability to self-govern its Disney World complex in Orlando. Among other things, this controversy has contributed to a nearly 25% drop in Disney share values since the first of the year.
That same day left leaning news outlet CNN announced that due to poor subscription and viewership rates, it would be permanently cancelling its premium streaming service CNN+ just one month after launching. This abrupt end of its platform has resulted in hundreds of employees being laid off, and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for the Atlanta based news organization. Like other monumental failures such as New Coke or the Ford Edsel the demise of CNN+ will be the topic of analysis for years to come.
Perhaps even most shocking this past Monday Twitter’s board of directors announced that they had approved the sale of Twitter to Elon Musk for approximately 44 billion dollars. This resulted in the stock gaining nearly 6% in the hours following the news, and nearly 30% since Elon Musk became the company’s largest shareholder in early April.
While it is yet to be determined whether or not the SEC will approve the sale, and Musk’s plan to take Twitter private. There can be no doubt that politics have played a key role in Musk’s interest in taking over Twitter.
Twitter has long been criticized by those on the right for not being the open forum of ideas and public debate it claims to be. These claims only intensified during the 2020 Presidential election season when the social media giant blocked the NY Post from sharing their infamous Hunter Biden laptop story and banned then President Donald Trump, from the platform.
I’m not here to debate Republican vs. Democrat. Align yourself with whichever you wish. But what I am wondering is do these three examples provide evidence that the conservative talking point of “go woke, go broke” is accurate?
In all three of these instances, it would certainly seem like getting too vocal in your political viewpoints is bad for business. While I can’t say for certain, my guess is if large corporations all of a sudden took a vocal stance on issues that were more right leaning the overall financial result would be the same. If you don’t believe me, ask the MyPillow guy.
In this way, I think Elon Musk is brilliantly capitalizing on the fact that most people are tired of the division, tired of identity politics and don’t want to be associated with team donkey or team elephant anymore. They simply want all points of view to co-exist and be permitted to be discussed.
Personally, I haven’t ever been too active on Twitter, but if Musk does follow through on his pledge to increase transparency of how content is distributed, to relax content restrictions, and encourage more diversity of opinions on the platform, I will likely transition to Twitter as my primary social media outlet of choice.
I have a feeling if I am inclined to do this, so are millions of other Americans tired of the polarization and tribalism that seem to have engulfed every aspect of their lives. If Mr. Musk can win the trust of everyday Americans, he stands to potentially add a lot of new Twitter users and make a lot of money.