Elon Musk is not just the world’s richest person — which is nothing to sneeze at, incidentally. He’s also probably the most powerful business owner on the planet right no — powerful in the influence he wields within his companies and beyond, from culture to politics. Heck, you might be able to make the case that he is single most powerful business owner ever.

Musk was trending toward the most-powerful title anyway with his stupefying fortune of $273 billion. Yes, most of that is “tied up” in Tesla stock, but it’s still money. And in the world of big-time finance, money talks and fertilizer walks. But now the eccentric/innovative/annoying (take your pick) business owner has added another jewel to his dazzling crown.

In buying Twitter for $44 billion, Musk is now poised to take over the world’s most important social media platform not called Facebook (or Meta now, I guess). This will give him enormous power to influence social media and thus politics, finance, culture, etc.

Even though a minority of the world’s population is on Twitter, it is heavily used by planet’s movers and shakers. We’re talking presidents, prime ministers, athletes and of course tycoons like Musk. Twitter isn’t the only way that such people speak and listen, but it is a uniquely modern and effective platform for reaching people. It is used to make and break news every day, and very quickly at that, another premium in our modern environment.

Now, for better or worse, Twitter will be controlled by a guy who happens to be the world’s richest man, who owns the world’s sixth most valuable company (Tesla, $900 billion), which makes one of the world’s most exciting and necessary products (electric cars). Oh, Musk also has a space company SpaceX (like fellow mega-rich guy Jeff Bezos) going into Earth orbit now — with plans to colonize Mars!

That’s a lot of firsts and mosts for one person, and now you add Twitter to his portfolio. No tycoon in history has had a resume as deep and wide as that. Even if old-style magnates like John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie dominated one sector, such as oil or steel, they had almost no influence beyond those realms. Musk has his fingers in many pies, and at 50 years old, he has another couple of decades to expand his empire. And that’s only if he doesn’t discover a way to live forever. (That’s a joke … I think). You almost have to expect that he will keep expanding and reaching (or over-reaching), maybe adding a news network here or there or inventing something amazing that no one has thought of yet.

All of which brings up an important question: Is it good for one individual to have this much power?

World’s five richest people

1) Elon Musk

Age: 50

Residence: Texas

Co-founder and CEO: Tesla

Net Worth: $273 billion

2) Jeff Bezos

Age: 58

Residence: Washington

Founder and Executive Chair: Amazon

Net Worth: $188 billion

3) Bernard Arnault

Age: 73

Residence: Paris, France

CEO and Chair: LVMH

Net Worth: $148 billion

4) Bill Gates

Age: 66

Residence: Washington

Co-founder: Microsoft Corp.

Net Worth: $133 billion

5) Warren Buffett

Age: 91

Residence: Nebraska

CEO: Berkshire Hathaway

Net Worth: $127 billion

Source: www.Investopedia.com

“Probably not” is the safe answer, because history has shown that people with too much power usually end up abusing it. And Musk is not the most stable guy you’re going to run into. In addition to being bold, innovative and inspiring, he can also be juvenile, cruel and irresponsible. The first part of that is exciting, the second part is unsettling. And when you give that loose cannon an unimaginable fortune and immense influence, something bad — or catastrophic — could happen.

With Twitter, for example, there are valid fears that he will ruin the platform by opening it up to the extremists who were filtered out before. Conservatives complained — correctly — that they were edited more heavily than liberals. Musk says he wants to undo that imbalance, which would be good, but many worry that he will go too far under the guise of free speech for everyone. That’s a nice concept, but it includes Holocaust deniers and flat-earthers.

We’ll all find out soon what Musk will do with his new toy. With him, you never know what comes next, so we just buckle our seat belts nervously as we ride along. We don’t know where that journey will take us, and frankly Musk doesn’t either.

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