Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has recently issued a public apology to Haraldur Thorleifsson, the designer of Twitter which Elon Musk had previously mocked on social media. Musk’s comment has stirred up controversies and negative responses from the public, which ultimately led to his apology. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of what happened, why it’s significant, and what the fallout from this situation could be.

Background of the Incident

The feud between Elon Musk and Thorleifsson dates back to the redesign of the Twitter platform in 2017. Musk, along with a few other Twitter users, criticized the redesign by calling it boring, confusing, and even ugly. However, things took a personal turn when Musk commented on a Tweet by a fellow Twitter user, wherein he took a dig at Thorleifsson’s design abilities.

In the tweet, Musk wrote “Your app sucks” and included a screenshot of a message he had sent to Thorleifsson, which read: “I’ve talked to Dantley Tyson [Head of Design at Twitter] about how you will get all the credit for my ideas on the product, which I find amusing.”

While Musk may have intended his comment to be humorous, it was widely regarded as unprofessional, insulting, and a misuse of his platform. It also placed pressure on Twitter to respond, which they did by stating that they welc0me “feedback, even if it’s sometimes constructive.”

Apology from Elon Musk

Days after his critical tweets and messages, Elon Musk issued a public apology on Twitter, addressing his comments about Thorleifsson. Musk wrote, “I want to apologize to Haraldur. He’s a brilliant designer & hardworking guy.” Musk’s apology appears to have been well-received by Thorleifsson and the broader public.

Why is this important?

The incident between Musk and Thorleifsson has highlighted a growing problem within the tech industry, namely the unprofessional and uncivil behavior of high-profile leaders, like Musk, towards others. While it’s not new to the industry, this kind of public behavior creates a toxic culture that can lead to more significant problems, such as higher staff turnover, increased employee stress, and public relations disasters.

As Forbes reported, “Leaders in the tech industry have access to influential platforms and can set cultural precedents throughout the industry. If Musk were to set a standard of disrespect or harassment, it would be detrimental to the broader industry.”

Moreover, the Twitter incident specifically highlights how different leadership styles can affect brand perception. While Elon Musk has often been praised for his innovation and risk-taking, he has also been criticized for his impulsive and controversial behavior. This has led to various consequences, such as defamation suits and strains on business relations with other companies.

With this in mind, it’s encouraging to see that Musk has taken the time to issue a public apology and address the situation in a constructive manner. By acknowledging his behavior, Musk has taken a step towards improvement and has demonstrated his ability to set a better example for those in the industry and his own employees.

However, the incident should also serve as a reminder that leaders have a responsibility to maintain a respectful and professional attitude, both towards their own teams and the broader industry. Future conduct from Musk will likely be scrutinized further, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts his approach to his role as a leader.


In conclusion, Elon Musk’s recent public apology to Haraldur Thorleifsson represents a much-needed step towards bettering the tech industry’s relative culture around professionalism and respectful leadership. This type of behavior should not be acceptable from top leaders, and Musk’s public acknowledgement and apology for his comments can set the stage for others to foster a more positive work environment.

Furthermore, the incident has shown that while innovation and experimentation are essential for business success, it is still crucial to maintain a level of civility and professionalism, especially when representing a brand on a public platform. It’s crucial to remember that in the technology business, individuals can change entire industries, and it’s key that those individuals prioritize leading by example.