Elon Musk has lived large in the public imagination since the early days of his life as an entrepreneur— espousing big ideas for tackling big problems, and unafraid to engage with fans and foes in public forums.
And no where else more than on Twitter, the company he has bid for on Thursday.
To many of his followers and admirers, Musk’s persona on the social-media platform occupies a place somewhere between a Steve Jobs heir apparent and a real-life Tony Stark.
Here are some of Musk’s most-talked about tweets, starting with the perhaps most famous, or infamous, of all: his “going private” tweet, which sparked a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation and suit that was later settled.
Aug. 7, 2018
Musk surprises investors with a tweet saying he is considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share.
In his tweet, Musk claims that “funding [has been] secured,” without providing any details. His tweet leads to questions from federal regulators as to whether the “funding secured” claim was factual.
July 15, 2018
Musk launches a vicious Twitter attack against one of the men who helped rescue a group of youth soccer players from a Thai cave, calling him a “pedo” after the man, Vernon Unsworth, criticized Musk’s failed bid to aid the boys. Musk later deleted the tweet, but plenty of people had it screenshot.
July 19, 2018
Musk apologizes for his attack, saying his words were “spoken in anger.” A Los Angeles jury would later find that Musk did not defame Vernon Unsworth in calling him “pedo guy.”
April 1, 2018
Musk jokingly tweets about Tesla going bankrupt.
May 23, 2018
Musk posts a series of tweets attacking the media, including one in which he says he intends to create a site “where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication.”
“Thinking,” he says, referencing the Soviet state newspaper whose name means “truth,” “of calling it Pravda …”
Sept. 6-7, 2018
Musk lights up the internet and heads to the top of Google’s trending searches after appearing to smoke marijuana during an interview on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. The interview went viral, and sparked a range of reactions — and memes.
Following news of his Twitter stake and invitation to join the board, which he later turned down, Musk tweeted the meme:
By the end of 2018, Musk had logged more than 400 tweets, and the attention they gathered only grew.
After a relatively quiet 2019, he would go on to engage in a fight with San Francisco Bay Area authorities over local shutdown orders that kept the Tesla Inc.
factory in Fremont, Calif., shuttered. The factory was then Tesla’s only U.S. car-making plant.
May 9, 2020
In the same exchange, Musk went on to say he’d move Tesla out of California. He made good on the threat in October, moving headquarters to the Austin, Texas area from Palo Alto, Calif.
Musk spread misinformation about the pandemic in several tweets in 2020, using the platform to promote a discredited drug and amplify dubious takes on the pandemic, to cast doubt on the efficacy of COVID-19 tests, and to call for an end of public-health measures put in place to curb the spread of the novel virus.
April 28, 2020
He predicted on March 19, 2020 that the U.S. would have “zero” COVID-19 cases by the end of April. By then, the U.S. was averaging more than 30,000 new cases daily.