PR Golden Turkey Awards, 2022

It has been way too long since I have posted a PR Golden Turkey Awards. But circumnstances scream for a reboot, in this special “Tech Billionaires Gone Wild” episode. No two people are more deserving of this award than the following characters.

Sam “It’s the PR Talking” Bankman Fried

NY Times reporter David Wallace-Wells wrote:

How do you make a multibillion-dollar company disappear in a week? For Sam Bankman-Fried and his crypto exchange FTX, the simple answer is that a leaked balance sheet leads your biggest rival… to instigate a sort of “bank run”… exposing billions of dollars in shortfalls you apparently created by riskily investing money that wasn’t yours. And revealing yourself, in the process, to be a very new kind of financial villain — one who pitches not just the prospect of profit but also deliverance from the corrupt speculative system in which you “made” your “billions.”

I’d say that sums it up pretty well. SBF has cast a pall over an already struggling industry and caused untold damage.

Kelsey Piper, writing for Vox, got a nice scoop shortly after the story broke. She conducted a Twitter interview with him (after he DMed her) and asked about his seemingly open view to more regulation:

He characterized his past conciliatory statements — as little more than “PR.” In doing so, he all but confirmed the view of critics who have argued that his overtures to Washington were much more about image than substance.

Kelsey: You said a lot of stuff about how you wanted to make regulations, just good ones. Was that pretty much just PR too?

SBF: yeah just PR

In an instant, Sam Bankman-Fried went from quirky bazillionaire iconoclast to health club reject. Dude, get a haircut, put on some pants and ditch the video game. You are an embarassment to the industry. Go away for a while, stop talking to the press, find a way to redeem yourself.

Elon “I’ll Take my $44B Football and Go Home” Musk

Elon Musk has always played the bad boy in the media. But here he is hitting them where it hurts, in their favorite social network. Tech journalist and podcaster Kara Swisher put it well in her recent tweet: Hellscape accomplished!

Elon Musk has come on like a bull in a China shop, causing a mass exodus of employees and a #leavingTwitter movement. For me, the final straw came when he just let another bad boy back onto the platform. This seemed at odds with the previous approach of moving more slowly and thoughtfully regarding content moderation.

I don’t know, some are saying these kinds of moves are just his modus operandi, like what he did at Tesla and SpaceX. And he really does know what he is doing here.

Yeah, I am not so sure. I think he is managing it into the ground and seems to not care much about employees, advertisers and users jumping ship. It makes me sick, as I really have enjoyed and gotten a lot of nice use out of Twitter, have made some great connections.

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