CEO Cage Fights: Stupid, Pathetic, Embarrassing, and Pathetic
Bob Runs the Numbers, Episode 12
This planned cage match fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg is so stupid. And pathetic. And embarrassing, and pathetic.
And it’s stupid, pathetic, embarrassing, and pathetic for everyone involved! Billionaire CEOs, corporate boards, support staff, access journalism media, clickbait media, us dumb people, and me.
I haven’t been on the “late stage capitalism is dooming us all” train but man, this stupid escapade is kinda persuasive.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg Are Worth a Million People Like You and Me
Mark Zuckerberg, the poorer of the two, has a net worth around seventy billion dollars. That’s $70,000,000,000.00. Elon Musk’s net worth? About two hundred sixty billion dollars. That’s $260,000,000,000.00.
The median net worth of American households is about $120,000.00, so let’s eyeball the median net worth of an individual American at around $60,000. In dollars, Mark Zuckerberg is worth 70,000,000,000.00 ÷ 60,000.00 or 1,166,666.67 times as much as the median American.
Let’s repeat that, rounding off the numbers to be as favorable as possible to CEOs.
Mark Zuckerberg is worth one million median Americans.
(Elon Musk is worth about four million median Americans.)
How does this make sense? Is Mark Zuckerberg a million times smarter than some random Joe plucked off the street? Does Elon Musk work four million times harder than a randomly-picked plumber?
Can you somehow manage to twist your brain into believing that Zuckerberg or Musk bring a million (1,000,000) times the value to their CEO roles that a random schlub would? Maybe their knowledge of intersections of business, technology, and politics combined with foresight and cleverness add up to being a million (1,000,000) times better than a random person at being a CEO? Maybe. Maybe.
But even if you can make that leap, what’s added by ignoring their valuable presence to perform a bread-and-circuses extravaganza? They are both pausing their normal responsibilities to do something anyone could. In this moment, they are only living up to one ten-thousandth of one percent (0.0001%) of their usual value.
Why are they doing this thing where they’re jettisoning 99.9999% of their value again?
God this is stupid.
These People Are So Stupid
Let’s review. One of these people — the one worth $70,000,000,000.00 — said something that pissed the other one of these people — the one worth $260,000,000,000.00 — off. And that one said a thing said by every pissed-off third-grade boy: “let’s fight.” And the first one said something said by every other pissed-off third-grade boy: “OK let’s fight.”
Now there’s no way to back out because, as every pissed-off third-grade boy knows, that makes you weak.
I guess people worth $70,000,000,000.00 or $260,000,000,000.00 can’t afford to look weak.
These People’s Support Systems Are So Pathetic
There are teams of people supporting these CEOs. They have advisors. They have families, and extended families, and friends.
I wonder if anyone on their support teams has told them that they are being stupid, or if people worth $70,000,000,000.00 or $260,000,000,000.00 have managed to ensure that their support teams are very … selective … in their advice.
Musk and Zuckerberg are surrounded by people who either think a CEO cage match is a great idea, or who get ignored by Musk and Zuckerberg. Entire support teams are either pathetic or impotent. I don’t know what is worse.
This planned CEO cage fight has been reported in plenty of respectable outlets. None of these respectable outlets have said the obvious, out loud: “this is embarrassing for all of us.” Maybe saying the obvious would reduce access to billionaires. Steganography journalism doesn’t make waves, and maybe respectable journalism is all about not making waves.
If you’re a smaller online outlet, maybe you do want to make waves. At least, you want attention. So lean in to it, attract some clicks, get some ad views, and call it a day.
Both of these approaches are so embarrassing. I’m not a journalist, but even as an outsider I’m cringing on the media’s behalf, both for the old-school media clinging to its access to wealth and power, and for the internet media pumping out dreck for clicks.
We Ain’t Blameless
Why do the drecky clickbait farms push this stupid story?
Why do the more staid media establishments credulously forward this story to us?
Why do people worth appreciable fractions of a trillion dollars think this is a good idea?
Is it just because we eat this stuff up? Probably. Enough of us at least.
Am I contributing to the problem by talking about it? Probably.
Late Stage Capitalism is Dooming Us All
Thanks, Elon. Thanks, Mark. This pathetic stunt is forcing us all to reflect about exactly what it is you bring to the table. And if what you bring to the table is the notion that you are worth a million normal Americans then you’re forcing us to question whether that’s true.