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Big quote: Elon Musk has responded to advertisers rushing to leave former Twitter platform X by telling them to "Go f**k yourself," which is unlikely to appease the companies that were handing over millions for ad space. The owner's outburst has since been addressed by X CEO Linda Yaccarino, who said "X is standing at a unique and amazing intersection of Free Speech and Main Street."
Speaking with Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times Dealbook Summit, Musk was asked about the advertiser exodus prompted by a report showing how some ads appeared next to pro-Nazi content on X. It came while Musk was already facing criticism for posting a positive reply to a message arguing that Jewish communities push hatred against whites. Musk has since apologized for his post, calling it "perhaps one of the most foolish, if not the most foolish, thing I've ever done on the platform."
IBM was the first to suspend its advertising on X, quickly followed by Apple, Walt Disney, Comcast, Warner Bros, and others. Musk told Sorkin their departure was going to "kill the company, and the whole world will know the advertisers killed the company."
That might sound as if Musk wants the advertisers to return, but when asked by Sorkin if this was the case, the billionaire said, "I don't want them to advertise."
"If somebody is going to try to blackmail with advertising, blackmail me with money, go f**k yourself," Musk added. "Go. F**k. Yourself. Is that clear, I hope it is." Musk appeared to single out Disney CEO Bob Iger by stating "Hey Bob, if you're in the audience, that's how I feel."
Back in June, it was reported that Twitter's ad sales were down 59%, likely due to the increasing amount of hate speech and pornography on the platform. In July, Musk said X was "still negative cash flow" due to the loss of advertisers "plus [a] heavy load debt."
X CEO Yaccarino posted a response to what she called Musk's "candid interview." She said he offered an apology, explanation, and explicit point of view about the company's position, adding that "X is enabling an information independence that's uncomfortable for some people. We're a platform that allows people to make their own decisions."
Today @elonmusk gave a wide ranging and candid interview at @dealbook 2023. He also offered an apology, an explanation and an explicit point of view about our position. X is enabling an information independence that's uncomfortable for some people. We're a platform that allows… https://t.co/PSmSKRkJSq– Linda Yaccarino (@lindayaX) November 30, 2023
There are plenty of other interesting topics covered during Musk's interview with Sorkin, including the claim that his brain implant startup Neuralink has never caused the death of a monkey as they chose animals close to death due to terminal conditions. He added that the monkeys' recently built facilities are a "paradise."
Musk has certainly never been one to care what people think, but his latest outburst could be a costly one. It's doubtful that the massive loss of advertising revenue will be offset by the new subscriptions for users. Perhaps illustrating his mindset, the Tesla boss said, "It's a real weakness to be liked."