Former Tesla board member tells Twitter to 'put on your track shoes now' and prepare to work with Elon Musk

Former Tesla board member tells Twitter to 'put on your track shoes now' and prepare to work with Elon Musk
Elon Musk says he is a free speech absolutist.Jae C. Hong/AP
  • Steve Westly told Bloomberg that Twitter executives will have to learn to work at Elon Musk's pace.
  • The former Tesla board member said Musk could "shake things up" at the social media company.

Former Tesla board member Steve Westly warned Twitter that it would have to learn to work at Elon Musk's pace after the social media company announced on Tuesday that the Tesla CEO had joined its board of directors.

"My advice to Twitter executives is put on your track shoes now because Elon is going to push you to pick up the pace," Westly told Bloomberg on Tuesday. "Here we are day one into this and he's already saying 'Hey, maybe it's time to get that edit function in there.' I think he's going to shake things up," the Tesla investor added.

Before the announcement that Musk had joined Twitter's board, the billionaire tweeted a poll: "Do you want an edit button?" A day later, Twitter announced it has been working on an edit button for the app, though the company denied the development was related to Musk's poll.

The billionaire said he is "looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!" Wall Street analysts have speculated that Musk's ideas for Twitter could lead to a clash with the company's CEO, Parag Agrawal.

"It's not going to be quiet," Westly said about Musk's potential interactions with Agrawal. The longtime Tesla bull, who is managing partner and founder of venture fund The Westly Group, also noted Musk can be "a bit temperamental and irascible," but said his involvement could be a "big win for Twitter."


With over 80 million followers, Musk is one of Twitter's most powerful users, but he has been outspoken in criticizing the app in the past. On March 25, he posted a poll asking if the platform adhered to "free speech" principles. In December, shortly after Agrawal replaced Jack Dorsey as CEO, Musk appeared to criticize the new CEO. He tweeted a photoshopped image of Joseph Stalin and former Soviet official Nikolai Yezhov, with Agrawal's head photoshopped on Stalin and Dorsey's on Yezhov.

The Tesla CEO is also known for his intensity. At Tesla and SpaceX, he has pushed for lofty goals and has even been known to work as much as 120 hours a week and sleep on the factory floor. Former executives have said the billionaire can be a difficult person to work for, prone to bouts of anger and even instances of rage-firing employees — allegations he has adamantly denied, calling them "false" on Twitter and saying he gives "clear and frank" feedback to employees.

Ultimately, Westly said Musk could help push Twitter into the future and provide an example to other Fortune 500 companies of how to build a direct relationship with consumers.

Twitter stock has soared this week, following Musk's disclosure Monday that he had taken a 9.2% stake in the social media company and Tuesday's announcement that he had joined the board. Shares closed Tuesday at $50.98, up nearly 30% from Friday's close. They continue to trade around $50 a share.

Watch the full interview on Bloomberg's website.