Elon Musk says he'll step down as Twitter CEO, but won't sell the company

He'll stay on as chief executive until a replacement can be found.

Hannibal Hanschke / reuters

Elon Musk has said that he will step down as CEO of Twitter once a suitable replacement can be found. On Sunday he ran a poll asking if he should leave the role, and Twitter users overwhelmingly told him to go. He didn't immediately respond to the results, but by Tuesday he seemed to have accepted the will of the people, after originally suggesting that he might instead change it so that only paying users could vote in Twitter polls.

Of course there's no timeline for Musk to hand over the reins yet. And as his tweet says it will require finding "someone foolish enough to take the job." Following a chaotic string of bad press and the gutting of its staff it might be hard to attract high quality candidates to the position. But, the bar has been set exceedingly low under Musk's tenure and a simple change of face at the top could do a lot to improve Twitter's image in the short term.

Of course, there is a chance that the change could be largely cosmetic. Musk tweeted that he planned to stay on and run the software and server teams. And there's no indication that he plans to sell the company, which he bought in October for $44 billion and quickly took private. So it's clear that he wants to still be involved in the company's operation, but it's unclear just how much.

It's hard to imagine the hard driving businessman who made a major spectacle of firing Twitter's entire executive team and dissolved the board when he took over simply stepping aside at this point. But he has also in his short reign allowed the whim of polls to make several major decisions.

Regardless of who eventually takes over as CEO, they'll be taking over a company that is almost unrecognizable compared to just a few months ago. Roughly 70 percent of the staff have either been laid off or quit. Advertisers have fled the platform as hate speech and trolls have thrived. And the content moderation and safety efforts have completely stagnated. The company is also now facing increasing pressure from the government on a number of fronts.