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Elon Musk remains focus of entrepreneurial discussions at Davos 2023 despite absence

Yahoo Finance anchors Dave Briggs and Seana Smith examine how Tesla CEO Elon Musk is being talked about and referenced in conversations at the 2023 Davos summit.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: Elon Musk is not among the many boldfaced names in Davos this week. Why depends upon who you ask. Elon tweeting that he declined the invitation because it was, quote, "sounding boring." The forum's spokesman, however, says his last invitation actually came in 2015. Elon's absence did not mean he was not discussed, however. Here's Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer to our team this morning.

IAM BREMMER: The fact is that the United States has attracted the most extraordinary entrepreneurial talent in the world. And I'm very proud to live in a country where that's true. And not all of them were born in the US. A lot of them were born in other places that came to the US because they understood that. That's Elon Musk. That's Jeff Bezos. That's Mark Zuckerberg. It's all these people. But the fact is that those people worth hundreds of billions of dollars also, at the same time, have literally no interest or conception in their role as stewards for civil society in American democracy.

DAVE BRIGGS: Do they have roles as stewards for civilized society? There enlarge the larger question, or do they have a responsibility to their shareholders to earn money because we are all about capitalism here. And I, for a second, I got to separate-- and he is brilliant, Ian Bremmer. I think you got to separate Bezos at least from Zuckerberg and from Elon Musk.

Look, Zuckerberg, I think you could argue either side of the coin. Certainly, what he did with Facebook, sowing disinformation regarding elections, that certainly was probably not healthy for our society. But Elon Musk as well, and now you see the rise of anti-Semitism and hate on the platform since he took over Twitter. He brings up an interesting point, but should these massive-- massively wealthy, successful tech titans be focused on a social responsibility or shareholder responsibility?

SEANA SMITH: They should be focused on both, I think--

DAVE BRIGGS: Oh, come on.

SEANA SMITH: --in a perfect world.


SEANA SMITH: Whether they would be able to kind of walk that line and be able to please everybody and be able to be for the better good, while also driving the bottom line, I think that's a situation where many people want. But when it comes to Elon Musk, I mean, he's a tough guy to keep up with. I don't think it's any surprise he weighed in, saying he had no interest in going to Davos, Davos saying that he didn't actually get an invitation. We know he's busy this week with the trial going on over his 2018 tweet about taking Tesla private.

And then we also got numbers out from the Information today regarding how Twitter has done since he has taken over that business. And when you take a look at those numbers, not too impressive. Twitter seeing a revenue drop of 35% to just over a billion dollars in the fourth quarter. Again, this is all according to the Information. 72 of its internal goal for the year, citing global sales and marketing chief at a staff meeting. That's where this information came from.

One of the factors, though, that hurt the business, apparently, over the last couple of months was that Twitter Blue subscriptions, which we have talked about so much, the fact that we had seen it fell short. They weren't able to sniff out all of the fake accounts on there. Certainly, had the debacle. We talked about how senators were being impersonated, how many people were being impersonated on the site. So Elon Musk has his hands full. But I did love what Ian Bremmer had to say about all of them.

DAVE BRIGGS: A fire sale literally at Twitter HQ today in San Francisco as they auctioned off essentially everything on the walls, including kegerators and cappuccino machines-- two grand, by the way, for a kegerator.


DAVE BRIGGS: You're too late. The bidding has already closed.

SEANA SMITH: Two grand?

DAVE BRIGGS: I guess they're expensive, man. I mean, who has a kegerator in their office is the larger question. Quickly, I want to add a Morning Consult poll that looked at Elon Musk's favorability among US adults. It's now at 13.4%. That's down a little bit from 16 last month, but down from 28% in January of '22. So, in a year, it has been cut in half among US adults. And what is the bottom line there? Well, that means your customers, at least when it comes to Tesla, think about a person, a personality, and politics when they're buying a car. And that, you do not want.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, certainly, we've heard a number of analysts come on this show right here and talk about the brand damage that has stemmed from Elon Musk and everything that's gone on over the last several months. You're looking at market cap for Tesla of just over $400 billion today. Dramatic drop here that we've seen over the last 12 months.