Elon Musk’s supporters are cheering him on, even if they’re not sure what he’s doing on Twitter

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter hasn’t exactly taken off like a rocket.

After desperately trying to get out of the $44 billion purchase, he faced a court case for default. So he went through with it while complaining that he was “obviously overpaying.” Mass layoffs and mass terminations have left Twitter with a shadow of its former self. And Musk’s decision to make blue ticks — Twitter’s confirmation of a user’s identity — available for purchase has turned off advertisers, who generate almost all of the company’s revenue.

Despite committing to a thoughtful process for content moderation decisions, he has allowed former President Donald Trump back onto the site based on a Twitter poll.

This uproar sounds familiar to Musk’s biggest supporters — and they’re holding on.

“I don’t think any of it went according to plan. Zero percent of it,” said Ross Gerber, the president and CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management. Tesla is his company’s largest investment, and he put a smaller amount of money into Musk’s purchase of Twitter. “That’s how Elon works. That’s the way he is.”

However, investor Ross Gerber believes in Elon Musk's leadership on Twitter "None of this went according to plan." This is Gerber speaking at a 2017 event in Beverly Hills.

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Investor Ross Gerber says he believes in Elon Musk’s leadership on Twitter, though “none of it has gone to plan.” This is Gerber speaking at a 2017 event in Beverly Hills.

Gerber thought Musk buying Twitter was a bad idea. He believes Musk made big mistakes in the first few weeks of ownership.

So why did he invest and why does he still think his investment will pay off?

Because it Elon Musk.

“I never bet against that guy,” he says.

Staff chaos and functional failures

After mass layoffs rocked Twitter earlier this month, Musk demanded that remaining workers report to Twitter’s offices instead of working remotely. He insisted they sign a pledge to build an “extremely hardcore” company or quit. Many opted for severance pay, and some warned of the company’s fate on their way out.

Musk’s goal was to “reduce the company to the people who really saw the vision and the goal,” says Gerber. “And it turns out it’s going to be cut a lot more than I think he thought.”

However, Gerber believes the company can recover.

On Twitter, many Musk superfans mock the Twitter employees who have left the company for not doing enough for the company, while others have volunteered to Twitter for a chance to work with their hero.

George Hotz, who previously founded an autonomous driving startup, tweeted to Musk that he was going to work essentially free, if Twitter made a living. On Saturday he announced that he had become a Twitter intern.

Billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen sees the appeal.

“If I were a programmer again in my 20s, I know exactly where I would be working now,” he says said on Twitter. “What an incredible moment.”

Andreessen’s company, Andreessen Horowitz, invested $400 million in Musk’s purchase of Twitter. Earlier this month, Andreessen tweeted about a much smaller investment that was another vote of confidence in its own way.

“$8,” he tweeted with a photo of his receipt after logging on to Twitter Blue. This is the monthly subscription service that Musk revised to include the blue verification ticks, and has described as the future of the platform.

Musk paused new Twitter Blue subscriptions two days later after it led to rampant impersonations from politicians, advertisers, and even Musk himself.

Musk’s story of how he cheerfully defied the skeptics

Musk was viewed as delusional or fraudulent by many investors and auto pundits when he promised Tesla, a burgeoning company with no manufacturing experience, would take over the auto industry. And he still raises eyebrows, rolls eyes, and screams of outrage with many of his claims — whether it’s a timeline for reaching Mars, overblown promises about “full self-driving” capabilities, or the idea that a humanoid robot is actually the future of Tesla.

But when it came to the battery-powered vehicle itself, Musk’s vision proved correct, with transformative impact. Tesla now sells more than a million vehicles a year. The rest of the market is following suit.

And Musk is the richest man in the world.

He did a similar trick at SpaceX, a private company that launches satellites. It took on a seemingly impossible task and nearly went bankrupt before succeeding.

“He’s been through this before and landed like a cat,” Erik Gordon, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, told NPR.

And what about the deafening chorus of industry experts who say Musk is risking the safety of Twitter users and the credibility of the platform as a whole by entering a field he doesn’t really understand, slashing the workforce and making impulsive changes to features? To his supporters, that’s just FUD — “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” — spread by people who don’t want Musk disrupting their industry.

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao is the CEO of Binance, which invested half a billion dollars in Musk’s purchase of Twitter.

“The more successful you are, the more people FUD about you,” he tweeted this week, alluding to Musk and Twitter. “FUD makes you stronger, not weaker.”

And sure, Musk is unpredictable, impulsive, and often youthful. But that didn’t stop Tesla’s meteoric rise.

Still, not every Musk fan is completely confident.

Wedbush’s Dan Ives, an analyst and longtime Tesla bull, says the “circus” on Twitter is bad news for the automaker. Yes, investors give Musk a lot of leniency, but Twitter diverts his attention from Tesla, forcing him to sell many Tesla shares.

“Selling Tesla stock to buy Twitter is like selling diamonds to buy a $2 slice of pizza in New York, in my mind,” Ives said.

Tesla’s shares are down 50% this year, thanks in part to drama on Twitter.

For Ives, that’s a red flag. For the most die-hard Musk supporters, it’s an opportunity.

Because shares are so cheap, it’s the best time to buy more Tesla stock in years, they argue.

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