The phrase “texts read in court” has an awful, awe-inspiring power, like some kind of ancient incantation with the potential to bring terrible and wonderful things to light.
For example, we will never be able to forget Western Australian Attorney-General John Quigley assuring premier Mark McGowan via text that he wasn’t “making love in the sweet hours before dawn” instead of plotting against Clive Palmer.
Alas, the texts coming out of the lawsuit between billionaire Elon Musk and Twitter over Musk’s aborted plans to buy the platform feature nothing quite so striking, but they do contain a lot of fawning and, as such, a portrait of how power works.
The messages between Musk and Twitter boss Parag Agrawal show just how much appears to come down to ego and caprice.
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First, of course, there must be a bit about what a great coder Musk apparently is.
“I wrote heavy-duty software for 20 years,” he says at one point. “I interface way better with engineers who are able to do the hardcore programming than with program manager/MBA types.”
We will simply leave this interview with Dogecoin co-creator Jackon Palmer here.
Predictably, the relationship, initially warm, falls apart because Musk can’t stop himself posting:
After Agrawal texts him to say this kind of thing “isn’t helping”, Musk spits back, with a tone that implies he’s just thinking of it now, “I’m not joining the board… This is a waste of time. Will make an offer to take Twitter private.” Thus he starts the ball rolling on a US$44 billion deal — which he attempts to back out of within months, hence the lawsuit — because someone wasn’t deferential enough to his tweets.
We’ve all been there.
These are not the only high-profile people whose texts are available thanks to the lawsuit. Others include terrifyingly popular podcaster Joe Rogan, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner (the man who prayed for Trump to be reelected) and, most cringe-worthy of all, angel investor Jason Calacanis:
Musk: Morgan Stanley and Jared think you are using our friendship not in a good way
This makes it seem like I’m desperate.
Calacanis: Only ever want to support you.
As Charlie Warzel puts it in The Atlantic:
The texts are juicy, but not because they are lurid, particularly offensive, or offer up some scandalous Muskian master plan — quite the opposite. What is so illuminating about the Musk messages is just how unimpressive, unimaginative, and sycophantic the powerful men in Musk’s contacts appear to be.