Elon Musk Ranked America’s Most Overrated CEO

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Feb 06, 2024

Whether it is the trips to space, forcing employees to move to another state, or implanting chips in brains to connect them to a phone, the public has decided that Elon Musk is the most overrated CEO.

In a survey conducted by Fortune, which polled hundreds of business executives, Musk earned the title of America’s Most Overrated CEO.

Remember When We All Liked Elon Musk? 

Receiving 399 votes this year, Musk earning this title might not be shocking to hear. The CEO had a busy year of running multiple companies, which is an impressive feat. Tesla, SpaceX, and X, formerly known as Twitter, are all under the Musk umbrella.

Elon Musk standing and wearing a suit with his arms crossed.

Source: DvidsHub/Wikimedia Commons

Musk challenged the status quo, introducing innovative technologies to the people. He dreams big, and has worked to make things happen for him.


A Turn in Musk’s Ambition

While Musk was once idolized as a superhero for revolutionizing the electric vehicle industry with Tesla, he quickly became a villain to many people.

Elon Musk pictured as he pulls an unusual face during a talk

Source: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The billionaire started to take his purposeful leadership that inspired younger generations and turn it into something that felt elitist. No longer was Musk looking at the little guy. Instead, he started looking down.

People Have a Problem with Musk’s Online Presence 

Maybe the dislike of Musk started with his presence on social media–the killer of most outspoken individuals. While many liked his unfiltered communication style, his messages started to cause controversies.

Elon Musk folds his hands while speaking at an event

Source: Chesnot/Getty Images

And then, there is the entire Twitter purchase that rubbed everyone the wrong way.

Musk Focus on Being a Free Speech Advocate

Musk is a massive advocate for free speech and has expressed concerns about censorship on X, formerly known as Twitter. He wants to make X a platform for “free speech around the globe,” believing it’s “a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” (via Popular Mechanics).

Elon Musk gives a speech against a red background

Source: Tesla Owners Club Belgium/Wikimedia Commons

The CEO also criticized Twitter’s algorithms for being opaque and biased and wanted to make a more transparent and open algorithm that opens the public up to more thoughts that challenge them rather than create an echo chamber.

Musk and His Twitterissance 

Instead of creating his own social media platform (like Donald Trump did with Truth Social), Musk purchased Twitter for $43 billion, according to a security filing, which was 38% above where the price stood a day before Musk’s investment in Twitter became public.

Social media icons with the Twitter icon in the center.

Source: Brett Jordan/Pexels

In 2023, Musk laid off almost half of Twitter’s 7,800 employees. He tweeted his apology for firing a large chunk of employees, writing: “Their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere.”


The “Death” of Twitter

Musk’s ownership of Twitter became an even bigger subject after he removed the blue check marks, and then made those check marks available through payment—which backfired, as many people made fake accounts posing as real people writing problematic statements.

Elon Musk is seen smiling and crossing his arms in front of him, wearing a black velvet blazer over a white shirt, standing before a backdrop featuring the Tesla logo and the letter 'X’

Source: Elon Musk/X

The last straw for many was the name change. Call it a running gag at this point, but many still refer to the company as Twitter.


Billionaire Tech-Bro vs. Billionaire Tech-Bro

Then, there was the ill-fated cage match between Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg was building Threads, Meta’s version of Twitter, that would become a competitor to Twitter. Musk initiated the idea of fighting Zuckerberg after discovering he was creating competition.

Mark Zuckerberg on stage talking to a crowd.

Source: TechCrunch/Wikimedia

If you took a moment to ask, Did that fight ever happen? No, it didn’t. The fight was called off after the hype around the match up died down. Threads was released, and that was the end of the tiff.


Losing $3 Billion Isn’t a Big Deal

In November 2023, the SpaceX Starship spacecraft was launched into space but exploded after climbing 39 km toward space. The highly-anticipated test flight was part of a $3 billion project to put humans back on the moon.

SpaceX facilitiy/Blue Origin facilitiy

Source: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images/Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While that big loss might make people take a step back and reanalyze what went wrong, Musk, seemingly unfazed, announced when he wants a new flight to launch. This is when scientists began to doubt the ambitions of the billionaire CEO.


Musk’s Controversial AI Brain Implant 

Remember when we mentioned that Musk was putting artificial intelligence chips into people’s brains? The project known as Neuralink is another ambitious project by Musk that could transform human-AI interaction.

A medical team in blue scrubs and hairnets working around a patient in a high-tech operating room with monitors displaying the procedure and a robotic arm in the background

Source: Neuralink/X

Musk announced that the company is starting human trials, with its first subject already in recovery after the Neuralink was inserted into their brain.


Second Place Goes To…

While Musk took home the most votes this year for Most Overrated CEO, Disney CEO Bob Iger came in second place with 302. Musk has called out Iger before after Disney pulled its advertising revenue from X earlier this year, even going as far as to remove Disney+ from Tesla vehicles.

Bob Iger photographed at an event wearing a black suit jacket and white shirt

Source: @kerrloud/X

Iger made some enemies when he returned to the CEO chair at Disney after Bob Chapek failed to live up to the company’s desired performance.


Does It Matter Which CEO Is Overrated? 

While CEOs can anger people with their ambitious moves that tend to affect the masses or neglect them entirely, these are people who have worked their way into power. How we feel about it at the end of the day is just gossip to them.

Elon Musk, wearing a dark suit and white shirt, is speaking to the media outdoors. His hands are gesturing mid-speech

source: Getty Images

What is fun about this list is that it seems Forbes had big names vote against big names. The pettiness is too good to not peek at, and speculate the drama unfolding behind closed doors (or on X).