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‘Impulsive’ Elon Musk saw Parag Agrawal lacking ‘leadership quality’, says biographer

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Elon Musk thought that Twitter needed a ‘fire-breathing dragon’ and Parag Agrawal was not that, the excerpt claims.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s USD 44 billion Twitter (now rebranded as X) takeover in 2022 was marked by large-scale employee firings, including the sacking of the micro-blogging platform’s then-CEO Parag Agrawal.

Now an excerpt, accessed by Wall Street Journal, from the upcoming biography on Elon Musk, states that the Tesla and X chief saw Parag Agrawal as a ‘nice person’ but lacking ‘leadership quality’.

Elon Musk thought that Twitter needed a ‘fire-breathing dragon’ and Parag Agrawal was not that, the excerpt claims further.

Back in March 2022, Musk reportedly met Parag Agrawal over dinner. This was even before Musk made an offer to buy Twitter. After this meeting, he concluded that Agrawal did not have ‘leadership quality’.

Biographer Walter Isaacson’s book about Elon Musk will be released on September 12. Isaacson, who has also written a biography for Steve Jobs, tracked Musk for three years for his book. He interviewed Musk, his family, friends, co-workers and adversaries as well, for the project.

“He’s a really nice guy. What Twitter needs is a fire-breathing dragon and Parag is not that,” Elon Musk reportedly said after meeting with Parag Agrawal.

Walter Isaacson, who has covered different aspects of Musk’s life in the upcoming biography, has talked about Musk’s ‘dark streak’, as the maverick tech billionaire tends to get into ‘demon mode’ at times.

Isaacson stated that the reason behind Musk’s dark side was due to his ‘difficult childhood’, as the biographer remarked, “He has a dark streak coming out of a very brutal and violent childhood, during which he saw strong psychological difficulties with his father. This streak is sometimes called ‘demon mode’ by his friend Claire Boucher.”

He added further, “Musk can sometimes become someone who does not care about anything except for the mission that he is on; a mission to get something done.”

The book also talks about Elon Musk, as a kid, being bullied and beaten in South Africa, and his sour relationship with his father playing a major role behind the tech billionaire’s current personality.

Walter Isaacson has also written in detail about Elon Musk’s Twitter buyout, while revealing how much the tech was in love with the micro-blogging platform.

About two decades ago, Elon Musk started a company called X.com which he wanted to gradually make into an “everything app”. Later, X.com merged with the PayPal payment service.

As per Issacson, Elon Musk wanted to keep X.com as the name of the combined company. However, his new colleagues resisted the idea.

“PayPal had become a trusted brand name, with a friendly chirpiness similar to that of Twitter, whereas the name X.com conjured up visions of a seedy site you would not talk about in polite company. Musk was ousted and he remains unwavering to this day,” Walter Isaacson wrote in Elon Musk’s latest biography.

“If you want to just be a niche player, PayPal is a better name. But if you want to take over the world’s financial system, then X is the better name,” Isaacson quoted Elon Musk as saying.

Walter Isaacson also wrote that when Musk saw a period of “unnerving success” immediately after COVID pandemic, he exercised some expiring stock options that left him with about USD 10 billion in cash.

“I didn’t want to just leave it in the bank. So I asked myself what product I liked, and that was an easy question. It was Twitter,” Isaacson quoted Musk as saying.

Walter Isaacson added that the way Musk bought Twitter and renamed it X, was “a harbinger of the way he now runs in: impulsively and irreverently”.

“It is an addictive playground for him. It has many of the attributes of a schoolyard, including taunting and bullying. But in the case of Twitter, the clever kids win followers; they don’t get pushed down the steps and beaten, like Musk was as a kid. Owning it would allow him to become king of the schoolyard,” Isaacson wrote further.

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