Mars, birth rates but no Twitter: Elon Musk charms Sun Valley moguls

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/

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July 9 (Reuters) – Elon Musk avoided discussing the failed Twitter deal, only repeating claims about problems with fake accounts on the social media platform as he addressed an audience of moguls on Saturday, two said People who attended the conference told Reuters.

In a wide-ranging interview on Saturday, Musk spent most of his time talking about Mars and praised the benefits of boosting birth rates on Earth, one of the sources said. Musk, chief executive of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and rocket company Space X, has said he aspires to establish a civilization on Mars.

Musk said earlier this week he would do his best to help the so-called “underpopulation crisis” after a media report said he had twins with a top executive at his brain-chip startup Neuralink. Continue reading

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The billionaire entrepreneur took the stage at the Allen & Co Sun Valley Conference, an annual gathering of media and technology leaders in Idaho, less than 24 hours after announcing he had completed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) would terminate.

The interview was conducted by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research company founded by Musk and several others.

Musk’s arrival at the Allen & Co Sun Valley Conference this week delivered a shock to the off-record event where the headlines are usually behind the prying eyes of the media.

“It just seems like an absolute mess,” said a senior media executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the interview. “Dude makes his own rules … I would hate to be Twitter where you have to take this guy seriously.”

Sun Valley is usually blanketed like a sports version of the Met Gala, with photographers capturing the arrival of fleece-clad media moguls and reporters noting power lunches at the on-property cake shop-cafe.

A Hollywood powerbroker on Friday expressed hope that the Musk interview would liven up the staid, cerebral atmosphere of this year’s conference.

Hours later, Musk’s lawyers sent an eight-page letter to Twitter saying he plans to call off the deal to acquire the social network. The document, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, claimed Twitter had not responded to repeated requests for information or obtained its consent in the past two months before taking actions that would affect its business — like firing two important executives. Continue reading

Up to this point, talk in media circles has focused on Wall Street’s reassessment of the streaming business following Netflix Inc.’s (NFLX.O) subscriber losses. A digital media executive said Hollywood, which has normally been isolated from recessions, is suddenly concerned about how a deteriorating economy will affect its multibillion-dollar investments in streaming services.

“For the first time, people are aware that the economy is affecting the entertainment business because inflation is affecting churn,” the digital media executive said, referring to subscribers leaving a service. “Now people are like, ‘Wow, are people really going to pay for three of these things?’

After Musk’s announcement, a CEO noticed the elephant in the room — Saturday’s remarks could make two conference attendees uncomfortable: Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal.

One of Musk’s final public messages to Agrawal came in the form of a tweet of a poop emoji in response to the Twitter CEO’s defense of how the company accounts for spam bots. Continue reading

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Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Adaptation by Kenneth Li and Franklin Paul

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