Welcome to another edition of Business Twitter, where we collect the best tweets to come out of Silicon Valley so you don’t have to. This article is part of a newsletter — if you want a weekly Business Twitter roundup sent to your inbox every Friday, subscribe here.
This edition: Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman tweeted a thread on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial that prompted a reporter to ask if he was hacked, Elon Musk polled his followers on selling 10% of his Tesla stock, the CEO of Fiddlehead HQ was forced to apologize for calling immigrants “parasites,” and Balaji Srinivasan proposed something like a city-wide co-op to encourage YIMBYism. Needless to say, it’s been a weird week.
1. Bill Ackman clarifies that he was not hacked
Nothing brings the country together into a vortex of polarization quite like a racially-charged televised homicide trial, and Twitter certainly plays a role in fanning the flames. The trial in question is for Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager who shot three protestors (killing two) at Black Lives Matter-led protest against police brutality last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse has testified that he acted in self-defense, and came to the demonstration with a gun out of interest in protecting local businesses. Prosecutors have suggested he had ties to white supremacists, and have argued he was acting as a vigilante.
Ackman watched the trial, and in a string of tweets explained why he believed Rittenhouse’s testimony was sincere, and how his and his wife’s “first hand impressions of Kyle were materially different from those we had previously formed based on media reports and opinion pieces that we had consumed.”
A reporter who viewed the tweets apparently was skeptical they were actually written by Ackman. In a follow-up tweet, Ackman said: “Just got a call from the media asking if my Twitter account was hacked. That is, the reporter couldn’t conceive of the idea that I could believe that Kyle is innocent because I am not a right winger. Crazy."
2. Elon Musk “flexes” by polling Twitter on selling Tesla stock
In a post musing about unrealized gains and tax avoidance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a wild proposal (ok, maybe not THAT wild by Elon standards): “I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” he tweeted. “Do you support this?”
“I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes,” he added. “Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere. I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.”
Weighing in on the matter, Huddle Up founder Joe Pompliano tweeted: Elon Musk letting Twitter decide whether he sells $26 billion of Tesla stock might be the biggest flex of all time.”
In the end, Musk sold about $5.7 billion of his holdings in the now $1 trillion electric vehicle maker, presumably freeing up enough liquidity to pay the tax man.
3. The CEO of Fiddlehead HQ posts some very unfortunate tweets
It’s hard to say anything nice about this. The CEO of a San Francisco-based digital marketing consultancy, Fiddlehead, went on a rant on Twitter about...immigrants. It did not end well. Melinda Byerley, who lists “Diversity in Tech” in her Twitter bio started off on a bad note, and it just got worse.
She tweeted: “Wtf is up with immigrants who come to silicon valley, get rich, and suddenly decide that America needs less taxes, education, and social support?”
She added: “Just take your money and go. Stop trying to turn America in the caste system/apartheid systems you came from.” And then she tweeted: “My advice to other states and countries is don’t let these kinds of parasites gain a foothold in your area. Tax the living shit out of them and see them for what they are: strip miners who will not rest til they ruin everything.”
Needless to say, the response from immigrant constituencies was swift and searing, and labeled her comments as “xenophobia.”
Byerley later posted an apology for the “hurt” she caused, and pinned it to her profile. “I want to make it clear to those who follow me on social media that I have learned from this, and I will hold myself to a higher standard in the future while remaining passionate and engaged in advocating for those with less privilege than many of us.”
4. Balaji Srinivasan thinks he knows how to turn us into YIMBYs
YIMBYism, standing for “Yes in My Backyard,” is a movement to encourage the building of more affordable housing in cities, as well as providing other resources that might be useful to the less-fortunate, like homeless shelters, and the public at large. It is the opposite of NIMBYism, the more popular attacks on these types of projects generally labeled as “Not in My Backyard.”
Serial entrepreneur and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan proposed a possible incentive structure that might turn more NIMBYs into YIMBYs, draw more innovators to cities, and help make cities work better for everyone. It sounds a little like a giant co-op apartment complex.
“How you might incentive YIMBism,” he tweeted. “If residents owned fungible shares in a citywide REIT [real estate investment trust], rather than the nonfungible land under a house, they’d be incentivized to recruit great people to the city at large. Can test the concept in a new startup city first, backport if it works.”
We’re not sure if that would work, but we're curious to see how it might play out.