How the “Technoking of Tesla” is embracing meme culture

Business

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Staff

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Tesla officially changed Elon Musk’s title of CEO to “Technoking of Tesla” in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tesla’s CFO, Zach Kirkhorn, is now effectively “Master of Coin” according to the filing as well.

It’s 2050. An elementary school teacher is asking their students what they want to be when they grow up. Some kids want to be rockstars, others are medical school bound and one child replies, “I want to be Technoking.” Thanks to Elon Musk, that kid’s dreams just might come true some day.

On Monday, Mar. 15, the Tesla Inc. co-founder and CEO took on a new title: “Technoking of Tesla.” In a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk provided little explanation of the name switch; he also formally changed the title of Tesla’s chief financial officer, Zack Kirkhorn, to “Master of Coin.” Kirkhorn’s new title is a reference to a Game of Thrones character.

This apparently inconsequential change to Tesla Inc. has already prompted others to reevaluate their C-suite names. Siqi Chen declared himself the technoking of Runway Financial Inc., a financial startup that provides support and advice to struggling businesses. Runway Financial’s website is ripe with emojis, denoting a marked shift from the traditional stuffy environment of, for example, Charles Schwab. Runway Financial promises to deliver “something that fundamentally rethinks the role of financial data;” their CEO’s — or, rather, technoking’s — decision to change C-suite titles indicates that they are, on some level, fundamentally rethinking the traditional structure and formality of business hierarchy. Mr. Chen told The Wall Street Journal that “all titles are jokes, and it’s tribute to our Technoking Musk for making this clear to the SEC.”

There is no question that Musk is a trendsetter. But his decision to change the traditional C-suite titles to names that embrace meme culture could be reactionary to the rise in importance of retail investors as of late. Recall what happened with GME in late January 2021: Redditors drove the stock price up, causing Wall Street investors to hemorrhage money and re-evaluate their positions. It is clear that retail investors possess the power to influence markets in unprecedented ways. Given the fact that they are making their trades online, largely based on the advice of fellow netizens, perhaps Musk is simply catering to their culture.

Moreover, Tesla purchased $1.5 billion in Bitcoin this year. They are not only embracing the convergence of Internet and finance through trivial name changes, they are also literally investing in this new future of finance. It is clear that Musk is paying attention to the emerging influence of Internet culture on finance; perhaps Tesla will implement some more radical changes than technoking in the near future.

mclaughline7@lasalle.edu