Mars, birth rates, but on Twitter: Elon Musk charms Sun Valley tycoons

Mars, birth rates, but on Twitter: Elon Musk charms Sun Valley tycoons
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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 collapsed Twitter deal when he addressed an audience of tycoons in Sun Valley on Saturday, two sources who attended the conference told Reuters.

In the wide-ranging interview, Musk spent much of his time extolling the virtues of colonizing Mars and increasing the birth rate on Earth, the sources said. Musk is the CEO of Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) and the rocket company Space X has long advocated the establishment of civilization on the red planet.

Earlier this week, Musk said he would do what he could to help what he called an “underpopulation crisis” after a media report said he had twins with a top executive at brain chip startup Neuralink. read more

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He took to Twitter to talk about how birthrates are falling in rich countries, a topic he has researched extensively.

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

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 shook up an off-the-record event that usually happens outside the media’s interest, making headlines this week.

“It looks like a total mess,” said one senior media executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity before an interview. “The guy makes his own rules… I hate being Twitter, you gotta take this guy seriously.”

The Valley of the Sun is typically lit up like an athleisure version of the Met Gala, with photographers snapping the arrivals of fleece-clad media moguls and reporters snapping power lunches at the property’s Konditorei cafe.

A Hollywood power broker said Friday that he hoped Musk’s interview would revive the staid, cerebral atmosphere of this year’s conference.

Hours later, Musk’s lawyers sent an eight-page letter to Twitter saying he planned to stop the deal to acquire the social network. The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Twitter failed to respond to repeated requests for information over the past two months or to obtain consent before taking actions that would affect its business, such as firing two key executives. read more

Until then, talk in media circles had focused on Netflix Inc’s pursuit of Wall Street’s reevaluation of the streaming business. (NFLX.O) subscriber losses.

One digital media executive said Hollywood, usually insulated from recessions, is worried about how the suddenly worsening economy will affect its multibillion-dollar investments in streaming services.

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

After Musk’s announcement, one executive pointed out the elephant in the room, Saturday’s revelations that could worry two conference attendees: Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal.

One of Musk’s last public messages to Agrawal came in the form of a tweet emoji in response to the Twitter CEO’s defense of how the company counts spam bots. read more

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Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Edited by Kenneth Lee, Franklin Paul, and Chris Reese

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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