Elon Musk, dual-class stocks and who owns the future – TechCrunch
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Tech news has been entertaining this week, if nothing else. The fact that we started the week learning that Elon Musk had purchased a significant percentage of Twitter stock, spent the mid-week period learning that he had joined the board of directors, and at the end of Friday , were busy reading how the employees were digesting the case, it’s been busy.
But better to be busy than not, and the saga gave us a lot to think about. I want to address the issue again today from the perspective of the right to vote.
Something we’ve seen in recent years is multi-class actions in startups. Simply put, multi-class shares exist when investors and founders create a class of shares that provides them with more votes per unit of share than is provided by other types of corporate shares of lesser importance. It does a few things, including concentrating power in fewer hands. In extreme cases, multi-class share setups can ensure that a founder has full control of a company, forever.
Facebook is one such company. Twitter is not.
The difference between the two companies is not in vain. Facebook is struggling to reinvent itself under the same leader who brought it early success while, by contrast, Twitter is now run by a non-founder and has just added a controversial user to its board. . These are very different results for publicly traded social networks.
This brings us to what makes me laugh. From my understanding of today’s tech tribalism, the people most captivated by Elon Musk and his own brand of capitalism are also those who are most supportive of using multi-class actions to control corporations. . Or put simply, the people who see little problem with the Facebook CEO holding all the cards, are also the ones who are excited about what Musk can do on Twitter.
It’s an example, I think, of intellectual dissonance, and an example that compels me to ask those who share my view — that creating corporate governance that resembles the monarchy is a bad choice long-term — to ask a question: Given that a very wealthy shitposter just snagged the board of directors of Twitter through the creative use of his checkbook, does that change the way we think? corporate governance and the importance of shareholder voting rights being more than mirages?
No. Not really. Elon does things like an activist shareholder, which is fine, although some people find him obnoxious as much as some see him as a hybrid of visionary and role model.
What will Musk bring to Twitter? Who knows. But at least it will be entertaining.
My friend and colleague Ron Miller wrote about a project at Salesforce this week that will let people write code while having a conversation with a computer. I recommend you read it. It reminded me a lot of something GitHub has built recently, which is a method to suggest code to developers as they type. Tools are coming for boring development work, it seems.
Sleek technology from Salesforce and Microsoft — GitHub’s parent company — won’t supplant developers. The delicate work they do will remain in demand. Instead, consider code writing tools from the perspective of people who don’t write code every day, but sometimes need it to do their job. For them, the market seems to remove obstacles in their path.
Between the rise of no-code and low-code services and the above work on more automated code generation, we are slowly moving towards a future where development work will be much more beginner-friendly, and even more for the hobbyist. This could unlock a ground of human potential. And maybe even reduce the shortage of developers on a modest basis.
All in all, I’m excited about this part of the technical work. Let’s give more power to more people. It will be good for humanity as a whole.