It’s all a bit quiet on the internet these days isn’t it? Without the Orange All-caps Toddler-in-Chief spewing out all sorts of twaddle to get us riled up and indignant, Twitter can sometimes feel a little dull (not to mention Facebook, YouTube, and, er, Pinterest).
Because if we’re honest with ourselves, all we really want from the internet is to have someone saying something silly or shocking that we can repost with a witty comment or hot take or failing that just a LOL HAVE U SEEN THIS THO to impress all our friends, colleagues and total strangers with.
It seems Elon Musk is more than happy to step into the breach, and arguably his late-night online outbursts have even more firepower than Trump’s. Sure, the MAGAlomaniac former US president might have been able to mobilise a few hundred people (or maybe a few thousand; nobody really knows) to go and storm the US Capitol. But the man better known as the father of X Æ A-12 is able to mobilise actual money. A lot of it, too.
Earlier this week, we saw what happened to the price of a Chinese shell company that deals in “content-creation houses” called Clubhouse Media Group, after the richest man in the world (excluding anyone in Russia) tweeted that he would be going on the social media audio app Clubhouse, a privately owned company with no links to the Chinese firm. The price of the latter more than doubled at one point on Monday as investors piled into the stock, thinking it was the former (or maybe reckoning that other investors would be confused and so the price would rise. Who knows. Either way: efficient markets.)
That was just small fry, though. Last week bitcoin jumped by a fifth after Elon changed his bio to #bitcoin. And his tweets have had similarly large impacts on the price of shares in CD Projekt, GameStop, and Etsy over the past week or so.
Late on Wednesday night, having said he would be off Twitter “for a while” just 48 hours previously, Musk posted a series of tweets about dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that started as a joke based on the “doge” meme.
Dogecoin duly responded, jumping by as much as 68 per cent on the day to reach just over 5 US cents, giving the memecoin a supposed “market cap” of $7bn. It’s not the first time our Elon has expressed a fondness for the doge. He tweeted an image of a mocked up “Dogue” magazine cover last week, and also tweeted about it in December and back in April 2019 too.
But of course, Elon is all about the lulz. He has expressly said that these tweets are meant to be jokes. During his Clubhouse talk on Sunday, he said:
He also said:
But the markets don’t care if he’s joking or not. As Elon says, the entertainment value of a cryptocurrency that was made to be a joke suddenly being worth several billion dollars is enough to make people buy it. And why shouldn’t it be worth several billion dollars, after all? Just because it calls itself a joke, why should it be any more of a joke than bitcoin? It is based on exactly the same technology.
In our post-rationality world, markets have now become kayfabe. Just as Trump used the pro-wrestling technique of portraying fake or staged events as real, with all his supporters complicit in the deception, so traders and investors are in on the joke that is the current state of the markets. It’s all, essentially, a game. The same game that took the market cap of struggling video game retailer GameStop to $34bn.
A suitably puerile replacement for Trump was needed to keep the game going, and to keep the masses entertained. He appears to have been found, and his followers just as devout. All hail Elon, the new kayfabe king of the internet!
Related links:Elon Musk reveals his favourite cryptocurrency - FT Alphaville Clubhouse’s stock is surging. It’s the wrong Clubhouse - FT Alphaville