Power Players

Jack Dorsey asked Elon Musk how he would run Twitter–here's what Musk said

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

When you have Elon Musk on the line, you ask him for business advice — even if you're Jack Dorsey.

In an undated video of what appears to be a Twitter company event, CEO Dorsey asks Tesla and SpaceX CEO Musk over video chat: "Give us some direct feedback, critique."

"What are we doing horribly? What could we be doing better? What's your hope for [Twitter's] potential as a service?" Dorsey asked Musk in the video, which was tweeted Thursday.

"If you were running Twitter, what would you do?"

Tweet of video call on feedback

Dorsey even joked with Musk, "By the way, do you want to run Twitter?"

Musk told Dorsey and the audience that Twitter could do better at distinguishing bots from real people, something the company has invested in.

"I think it would be helpful to differentiate between real and you know, not just like a verified person, but is this a real person, or is this a bot net or a sort of troll army or something like that? Basically, how do you tell if the feedback is real or someone trying to manipulate the system? Or probably real or probably trying to manipulate the system," Musk said.

"Some way to differentiate between, this is a real person and this is someone just trying to manipulate the system. I see people trying to sway public opinion, and sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what's real public opinion and what's not," he said.

"What are people actually upset about versus manipulation of the system by various interest groups? And there are many such groups."

Along with his feedback on Twitter operations, Musk also told Dorsey he believes the first human to send a tweet from Mars will happen "five years from now... probably not more than nine years from now."

Mars first tweet

(Musk has said he'll get humans to Mars by 2024. In a March tweet, he revealed plans to send manned SpaceX rockets to the planet, creating a fully "self-sustaining city" on Mars by 2050.)

Musk, who joined Twitter in June 2009, has over 30 million followers and is extremely active on the platform, often using it to communicate with Tesla customers.

But Twitter has also gotten Musk in trouble.

Most recently, in December, Musk won a defamation case brought by Vernon Unsworth, the British cave explorer whom Musk called "pedo guy" on Twitter in 2018.

And in October 2018, Musk agreed to relinquish his role as chairman at Tesla and pay a hefty fine as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over an August 2018 tweet. Musk tweeted that he had secured enough funding to take Tesla private, and the SEC alleged Musk's statements were "false and misleading" and that he didn't properly notify regulators, CNBC reported.

In February, the SEC accused Musk of violating the agreement when he tweeted about Tesla production numbers, however the sides agreed to resolve the situation by amending the original settlement for clarity.

Dorsey, however, has complimented Musk's use of Twitter.

Dorsey on Musk tweet here.

When journalist Kara Swisher interviewed Dorsey over Twitter in February, she asked him to name the "most exciting" and "influential" person on the platform. 

"To me personally? I like how @elonmusk uses Twitter," Dorsey tweeted. "He's focused on solving existential problems and sharing his thinking openly. I respect that a lot, and all the ups and downs that come with it."

To that, Musk replied, "Thanks Jack, Twitter rocks!"

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