This morning, Elon Musk, the current richest man in the world, offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion and sell the company. That’s quite a bit of money to spend on a company that allows users to post their thoughts in 280 character increments.
The shocking move left many at Custom Hour wondering: what else could Musk spend $43 billion on? We thought we could provide some options in case the Twitter board decides they don’t like the offer.
return to the moon
Elon’s greatest dream is to establish a settlement on Mars, but first he would like to build a base on the surface of the moon. “If you really want to wake up the public, we need to have a base on the moon,” Musk said in 2017. “That would be pretty cool.” He has repeated that feeling several times since then.
It turns out that $43 billion would be a pretty long way to get people on the moon. In fact, NASA is currently trying to send people back to the moon with its Artemis program — and Musk’s SpaceX is getting a lot of money from NASA to participate. When the program was first created in 2019, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine estimated that NASA would need an additional $20 to $30 billion to fund the agency’s return to the moon through the first landing. And one government audit anticipates NASA to spend $93 billion on Artemis between 2012 and 2025†
Musk could pump $43 billion into SpaceX’s own quest to send humans to the moon
Musk could put $43 billion into SpaceX’s own quest to send humans to the moon, which may or may not accelerate the effort and even beat NASA by placing humans on the lunar surface. Or he can use that money to jump-start all the other things he needs for his deep-space ventures, such as habitats, lunar spacesuits, and infrastructure. But instead, SpaceX continues to bid for NASA contracts to partially fund the development of its new Starship vehicle designed to take humans to the moon and deeper into space. Last year, NASA awarded SpaceX with a $2.9 billion contract to help SpaceX develop Starship as a lunar lander for the Artemis program. Musk could have easily paid that contract nearly fifteen times over, and even his rival, Jeff Bezos, offered to build a competing lunar lander for NASA for free. But I think it makes sense not to spend your own money if the government will eat some of the costs for you. — Loren Grush
Help solve world hunger
The most annoying thing about Elon’s offering is that Twitter isn’t broken. It’s cursed hell, sure, but that’s kind of Twitter’s whole schtick. However, there are several institutional issues plaguing this country (and the world) that $43 billion could go a long, long way to solve. For example, after one of his own tweetsthe United Nations World Food Programme detailed a plan where Elon was able to support 42 million people facing famine by providing them with one meal per person per day for a year. The cost of that plan? $6.6 billion. So ostensibly $43 billion could go a whole lot further. Elon eventually donated $5.7 billion to charities in November, but the UNWFP reportedly didn’t see part of that check†
Anyway, maybe Elon doesn’t want to do this very tangible thing already mapped out for him in detail. There are plenty of other institutional issues he can throw money at that would have a demonstrable impact on people’s lives. (See Antonio’s suggestion below!) Buying Twitter will only give us more brain worms than we already have. — Victoria Song
Buy a struggling media company to support journalism
In 2013, the previous title holder of ‘Richest Man in the World’ was Jeff Bezos $250 million spent to buy The Washington Post to support the free press. Laurene Powell Jobs, Another Billionaire Thanks to Technology, spent a reported $100 million and now owns a majority stake in The Atlantic. Are these vanity purchases in part to bolster their egos? Probably! But they also undoubtedly protected age-old journalistic institutions that would otherwise have been crushed by advertising duopolies and the troubling economics of running a media company in the modern day. The $43 billion Elon plans to spend on Twitter could go much further if it were spent on one or two media companies, and it would support his claim that he is a champion of free speech much better than Trump does again. to set up a platform he didn’t add much to it in the first place. — Alex Cranz
Literally building bridges
According to the Bridge conditions report 2021 by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, one in three American bridges is in need of repair or replacement. Don’t just think of the big tourist ones like the George Washington Bridge or Golden Gate. Think of the little ones you drive, bike, or walk across your neighborhood every day — like the Fern Hollow Bridge that recently collapsed in Pittsburgh† The cost to repair and replace all these failing bridges? About $42 billion.
Elon’s money could put all these bridges across the country in order and have a billion dollars left to do whatever he wants — while Twitter leaves Twitter to just stay Twitter. Only about 217 million people worldwide are daily Twitter users. By comparison, there are about 329 million people in the US – many of whom use bridges!
Elon’s money could fix all these bridges across the country, and have a billion dollars left
We all know that US infrastructure is a joke compared to other developed countries (Infrastructure Week, anyone?). If you’ve ever driven on a road in Germany, you’ll know the difference right away. But if that money can just be thrown by the richest man in the world, why shouldn’t it be for things that really help people and can save lives? In fact, I’d be okay with him renaming some bridges to S3XY, 420blazeit, Model B for Bridge, Bridgey McBridgeface, or whatever else he can think of. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto
Pay for a real Tesla PR team
Tesla’s public relations team notoriously doesn’t exist. It consists of Elon Musk. While most auto and tech-adjacent companies have dozens, if not hundreds, of PR experts on their payroll to respond to press inquiries and position the company at its best every day, Tesla is completely lacking in this area.
Elon Musk is charismatic, depending on your tolerance for shitposting, but he doesn’t represent everyone who works at Tesla. Even a PR team can’t really do that, but what it can do is communicate more effectively with sites like ours at Custom Hour. The best news for Elon is that its creation probably won’t cost even one of those $43 billion. —Cameron Faulkner
Fund a real transport project
Elon Musk is someone who claims to care deeply about transportation. He owns a car company and a tunneling company that aims to reduce traffic congestion by building a network of underground car tubes. None of these projects — Tesla and The Boring Company — would actually solve the litany of transportation problems that exist around the world, such as crumbling infrastructure or the decline of public transportation. Cars make traffic worse and dig tunnels for more cars would actually shift most of our problems underground†
So instead of spending $43 billion or whatever ungodly amount he’s considering buying Twitter, Musk could pump some or all of that money into making a real difference in the world. Such as reducing CO2 emissions by making it easier for people to find and use public transport.
Musk is a very wealthy person who could have a serious impact on our chances of survival
Over a 10-year period in the US, 19 percent of transit vehicles and 6 percent of fixed guidance elements such as tracks and tunnels were rated as “poor” condition. Currently there is a $176 billion transit backloga deficit expected to grow to more than $270 billion through 2029. Musk could cut that amount by at least a third with the money he uses to buy the bird website.
Taking a bus or subway instead of driving a car (even an electric one) is one of the most effective actions a person can take to save energy and reduce climate-destroying carbon emissions. Musk is a very wealthy individual who could have a serious impact on our survival as a species if he invested his money wisely, instead of doing whatever nonsense with Twitter. — Andrew J. Hawkins