Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg’s fight started before Meta’s Twitter rival

Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg’s fight started before Meta’s Twitter rival

Meta chief government Mark Zuckerberg has been making an attempt to seem extra related among the many tech elite

(Washington Publish illustration; Pictures by The Washington Publish; iStock)

Mark Zuckerberg has been making an attempt to make himself cool once more — and extra related to a tech elite taken with the net antagonism and offline antics of Elon Musk.

Over the previous 12 months, Zuckerberg has appeared on podcasts hosted by provocateur Joe Rogan and AI researcher Lex Fridman, each standard amongst followers of Twitter proprietor Musk. He has posted sweaty motion photographs on Instagram displaying his jujitsu expertise. And this week, he accepted Musk’s problem to a cage combat after information stories on Meta making a Twitter competitor. The pair have agreed to combat on the “Vegas Octagon,” an Final Combating Championship enviornment, though it’s unclear if and when it would happen.

The technique to pitch Zuckerberg as visionary innovator to a tech-savvy viewers shedding its enthusiasm for his social media empire has been years within the making, in keeping with individuals aware of the matter who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate delicate inner issues. However Zuckerberg has actually ramped it up over the previous 12 months, one of many individuals mentioned, courting the identical “tech bros” who’ve been captivated by Musk — who’s immediately Zuckerberg’s competitors in additional methods than one.

As Meta struggles with layoffs and its up to now unrealized goals of the metaverse, “I believe Mark can also be getting a sense that he’s not revered,” mentioned Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of worldwide enterprise at Tufts College’s Fletcher College. The cage match was “a method for him to indicate that, ‘Look, he’s edgy. He is usually a tech bro identical to the subsequent man.’”

How Mark Zuckerberg broke Meta’s workforce

Meta has lengthy understood that Zuckerberg is extra synonymous together with his product than different Massive Tech firms and even carried out polling on the CEO’s likability and whether or not Fb’s finest days had been behind it, mentioned one of many individuals aware of the corporate’s communications technique. Zuckerberg, particularly, is delicate to being perceived as an innovator and concerned with what the general public thinks.

Fb pivoted to the metaverse. Now it desires to indicate off its AI.

Meta’s communications relations staff has been positioning him as the corporate’s chief storyteller lately, saying most of the firm’s merchandise straight, the individuals mentioned. That has additionally meant placing him in entrance of journalists and influencers they understand as influential with early adopters and the tech workforce. This shift additionally coincided with the corporate’s plans to rename itself Meta and Zuckerberg’s resolution to raise International Affairs President Nick Clegg to be the corporate’s important content material moderation defender.

In latest weeks, Zuckerberg has additionally sought to win again the assist of his staff, following tens of 1000’s of layoffs. The CEO has defended his management internally, arguing that he must be judged on whether or not the corporate is making progress towards its enterprise objectives. And he has spent extra time these days speaking concerning the firm’s new product investments in synthetic intelligence with the objective that they may grow to be extra enthusiastic about the place the corporate is headed.

Zuckerberg has turned to Instagram to attempt to promote that edgier picture. Three weeks in the past, he posted a selfie sporting a camouflaged vest, saying that he had simply accomplished the “Murph problem,” a well-liked train problem that requires a heavy dose of operating, pull-ups, push-ups and squats whereas carrying a 20-pound weighted pack.

Jujitsu, throughout the final couple of years, has additionally taken high billing. After it was reported that Zuckerberg was choked unconscious throughout considered one of his matches, the CEO contacted the New York Instances to disclaim that it occurred, in keeping with the newspaper.

In 2021, he posted a video of himself hover-boarding with an American flag on July 4.

“These founders … are eager to drive their story straight,” mentioned Brooke Hammerling, a public relations advisor for know-how firms. “The CEO story can grow to be greater than the corporate itself.”

Whereas Zuckerberg and Musk share many traits as tech CEOs, their public pictures have diverged from one another lately.

Zuckerberg’s picture has suffered setbacks after an extended stretch of scandals and coverage fights over Fb’s content material moderation practices. Extra lately, Meta has confronted main issues at its enterprise which have kneecapped the corporate’s progress. Its core blue app is shedding its attraction amongst youthful audiences who favor newer apps Snapchat and TikTok. Sluggish post-pandemic progress in e-commerce has reduce into the corporate’s promoting enterprise. An Apple change in privateness settings had been estimated to have price the corporate billions.

In the meantime, Zuckerberg’s large guess on digital and augmented actuality seems years away from creating wealth, and Meta has been slower to construct merchandise in generative synthetic intelligence, which has already reworked the know-how trade.

Musk, alternatively, is the richest man on the earth, thanks largely to his stake in Tesla, the place he’s the chief government officer. His rocket ship firm, SpaceX, has received main authorities contracts, and his resolution to purchase Twitter final 12 months and pledge to the best to free speech on the social media platform received accolades from completely different corners of the tech sector.

Musk’s penchant for tweeting at odd hours and trolling his critics — in addition to his campaign in opposition to “cancel tradition” and the “woke thoughts virus” — attracted political conservatives and leaders from inside Silicon Valley’s reactionary proper. Extra of the contrarian tech crowd adopted when Musk slashed Twitter’s workforce, demanded a return to workplace and promised to construct a “primarily based” various to “woke” AI, borrowing a praise from extraordinarily on-line factions of Twitter.

The 2 billionaires have lengthy spared in public. In 2016, Zuckerberg criticized Musk after a SpaceX rocket exploded and destroyed considered one of Fb’s satellite tv for pc that was a part of a challenge to develop web connectivity around the globe. A 12 months later, the 2 traded barbs over their differing views on the dangers of synthetic intelligence. In recent times, Musk has additionally advocated for deleting Fb and criticized the platform’s position in facilitating the riots on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Now, the 2 CEOs are gearing up for an additional battle. Meta is exploring constructing a decentralized social media community as a substitute for Twitter, the information that prompted the problem to battle from Musk.

“I believe there’s one other side to the viral cage match between the 2, which is now many extra persons are conscious of the truth that Fb desires to begin a Twitter various. And they’ll wish to test it out when it’s introduced,” Chakravorti mentioned. “So that is free promoting.”

Zuckerberg’s dedication to the rivalry could proceed to be examined.

After Zuckerberg received two medals at his first jujitsu match in Could, he went on Fridman’s podcast to debate his curiosity within the sport and imaginative and prescient for Meta. The 2 males geeked out on jujitsu, buying and selling opinions on why it such a tough sport and what they’ve realized about life from taking part.

Fridman additionally pressed Zuckerberg to say one thing he thinks Musk has carried out proper at Twitter. Zuckerberg mentioned Musk’s resolution to make drastic cuts and adjustments to the corporate’s workforce emboldened different tech leaders — together with himself — who may need been hesitant earlier than to comply with swimsuit.

“It was in all probability good for the trade that he made these adjustments,” Zuckerberg mentioned.


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