‘We will coup whoever we want!’: the unbearable hubris of Musk and the billionaire tech bros

  • November 25, 2023
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Challenging each other to cage fights, building apocalypse bunkers – the behaviour of today’s mega-moguls is becoming increasingly outlandish and imperial

Even their downfalls are spectacular. Like a latter-day Icarus flying too close to the sun, disgraced crypto-god Sam Bankman-Fried crashed and burned this month, recasting Michael Lewis’s exuberant biography of the convicted fraudster – Going Infinite – into the story of a supervillain. Even his potential sentence of up to 115 years in prison seems more suitable for a larger-than-life comic book character – the Joker being carted off to Arkham Asylum – than a nerdy, crooked currency trader.

But that’s the way this generation of tech billionaires rolls. The Elon Musk we meet in Walter Isaacson’s biography posts selfies of himself as Marvel comic character Doctor Strange – the “Sorcerer Supreme” who protects the Earth against magical threats. Musk is so fascinated with figures such as Iron Man that he gave a tour of the SpaceX factory to the actor who plays him, Robert Downey Jr, and the film’s director, Jon Favreau. As if believing he really has acquired these characters’ martial arts prowess, in June Musk challenged fellow übermensch Mark Zuckerberg to “a cage match” after Zuck launched an app to compete with the floundering Twitter. Musk and Zuck exchanged taunts in the style of superheroes or perhaps professional wrestlers. “I’m up for a cage match if he is,” tweeted Musk. “Send Me Location,” responded Zuck from Instagram’s Threads.

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