The launch of the Threads social network has exacerbated the rivalry between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, at the helm of Twitter, a battle of egos from which the CEO of Meta seems to take advantage.
Even before this new application, an assumed rival of the blue bird network, went online, the tension had already risen several notches between the two entrepreneurs, Elon Musk publicly challenging Mark Zuckerberg to an arts match at the end of June. mixed martial arts (MMA).
Usually reserved, to the point of appearing cold, the thirty-something had answered in the affirmative.
Contrary to his habits, Mark Zuckerberg tried his hand at humor to mock Elon Musk on the occasion of the arrival of Threads, the platform which reached 100 million subscribers in less than five days.
He responded with an emoji crying with laughter to a spade from the official account of the fast food chain Wendy’s, which suggested that he go into space “just to annoy” the one who is also boss of the aerospace company SpaceX.
The hero of the film “The Social Network” also openly criticized Twitter, guilty, according to him, of not having been able to maintain a positive climate on its platform, which he promises to strive to do for Threads.
Elon Musk then fired all the guns, first threatening Meta with a lawsuit for intellectual property infringement, made possible, according to him, by the hiring of former Twitter employees, which the Menlo Park group refutes. (California).
He then sent a few banderillas against Threads on Twitter, before shifting into high gear.
“Zuck is a cuck”, posted the billionaire of South African origin, using a word which, in addition to rhyming with the nickname of Mark Zuckerberg, designates both a cuckold and, in a very pejorative way, a person politically moderate or progressive.
Not having obtained a response from the person concerned, he then proposed “a real cock contest”, in a colorful message to his enemy of the moment, without the latter reacting publicly.
“It is clearly unique to see these two individuals, who are rich with billions, embark on a verbal contest of this style”, underlines Andrew Selepak, professor at the University of Florida.
“But it seems a little unbalanced,” he says, because Elon Musk “has a childish attitude”, unlike Mark Zuckerberg.
The gap between the two personalities seems to benefit the co-founder of Facebook, who had suffered for several years from a degraded reputation.
The latter was the result of a mixture of a supposedly immoderate taste for power, an alleged lack of empathy, cold and robotic communication, but above all cases related to the use of personal data by Facebook, in first place the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in 2018.
“These attacks by Musk have done nothing but improve Zuckerberg’s image,” argues analyst Rob Enderle.
In addition, Threads has blown a breath of fresh air on Meta and its boss, at least as much for its management differences with Twitter as for its own characteristics.
The new social network is currently enjoying a grace period, devoid of controversy, although it may not last. It thus offers a stable and predictable alternative to disappointed Twitter users, scalded by its boiling owner.
“The attraction for profit, that I can understand”, describes analyst Carolina Milanesi, “whereas in the case of Twitter, we are in the presence of a rich man centered on himself, who has abject ethical values. »
The rivalries between big bosses, in tech and beyond, are not new, nor are the bloodshed of some.
Two of the greatest personalities of the new economy, the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, and that of Microsoft, Bill Gates, have thus maintained for decades a relationship mixing contempt and admiration.
Bill Gates’ successor, Steve Ballmer, “turned the furniture upside down when people left (from Microsoft) for Google,” recalls Rob Enderle. “But that,” he says, referring to Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, “is crazy. »