Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
- Pettiness is the order of the day for prominent tech bros.
- Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and others are behaving similarly amid their rivalries with each other.
- It comes at an awkward moment: petty season has come straight after layoff season.
Is there something in the water in Silicon Valley? Whatever the case, it’s got tech bros stooping to new depths of pettiness.
The ringleader of the petty patrol is none other than Elon Musk, who has taken to goading as a strategy for anyone who attempts to rival him or question his unbridled ambitions to make something of X, formerly known as Twitter.
Here’s the latest example: X appears to be slowing down the loading times of links that redirect to news sites Musk openly excoriates, such as The New York Times, as well as links to rival sites such as Facebook, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
This represents peak pettiness because social media matters far less than it did to publishers; search engines like Google almost entirely drive ad-revenue traffic, so Musk’s ploy does little more than make X users grumpy.
Pettiness has defined recent developments in Musk’s on-and-off spat with Mark Zuckerberg, too.
In a Threads post on Sunday, the Meta chief offered a fairly mature account of his experience in trying to set up a cage-fighting bout, noting that he offered a real date, and had sought out UFC boss Dana White to “make this a legit competition for charity.”
But after saying Musk wouldn’t confirm a date, while also acknowledging the X owner’s medical issues, Zuck said it was “time to move on.” Musk’s response, in peak petty fashion, was to suggest that he’d rock up at Zuck’s home in Palo Alto and fight him there.
Zuck has engaged in his own pettiness by launching Threads in a week where X was in chaos, which involved restrictions on the number of posts a user could see and a clampdown on popular services such as TweetDeck.
This behavior hasn’t just been limited to Musk and Zuck, however. Even someone as principled as Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has also shown that a little bit of pettiness isn’t beneath him.
A month after Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar bet on OpenAI was announced earlier this year, Nadella suggested during an interview with The Verge that the investment was as much about putting his company at the forefront of the AI revolution as it was about making Google its lapdog.
“‘I hope that, with our innovation, they will definitely want to come out and show that they can dance. And I want people to know that we made them dance, and I think that’ll be a great day,” Nadella said during the interview.
Tech bros have been prone to this kind of pettiness before. Competition, after all, tends to bring out the best and worst in people. Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey has taken all kinds of swipes at Zuck before, while Jeff Bezos has made pointed comments about Musk.
But what makes the recent string of antics so petty is their timing.
These CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies behaved childishly despite supposedly navigating tough times. Tens of thousands of tech workers have been laid off in recent months amid claims that they need to get serious.
Meanwhile, their bosses seem determined to be anything but.