Even before the launch of this new application, assumed rival of the network to the blue bird, the tension had already risen several notches between the two entrepreneurs, Elon Musk publicly defying, at the end of June, Mark Zuckerberg to a mixed martial arts (MMA) match.

Usually reserved, to the point of appearing cold, the thirty-year-old had answered in the affirmative.

Contrary to his habits, Mark Zuckerberg tried humor to mock Elon Musk on the occasion of the arrival of Threads, the platform that reached 100 million subscribers in less than five days.

He responded with an emoji crying with laughter to a dig at the official account of the fast food chain Wendy's, which suggested he go into space "just to annoy" the one who is also boss of the aerospace company SpaceX.

The hero of the film "The Social Network" has also openly criticized Twitter, guilty, according to him, of not having been able to maintain a positive climate on his platform, which he promises to focus on doing for Threads.

Elon Musk then fired all wood, first threatening Meta with a lawsuit for intellectual property infringement, made possible, according to him, by the hiring of former Twitter, which the group of Menlo Park (California) denies.

He then sent a few banners against Threads on Twitter, before moving up a gear.

"Zuck is a cuck," posted the South African-born billionaire, using a word that, in addition to rhyming with Mark Zuckerberg's nickname, refers to both a cuckold and, very pejoratively, a moderate or politically progressive person.

Having not received an answer from the person concerned, he then proposed "a real dick contest", in a pictorial message to his enemy of the moment, without the latter reacting publicly.

"Kid attitude"

"It's clearly unique to see these two individuals, who are rich in billions, engage in a verbal joust of this style," said Andrew Selepak, a professor at the University of Florida.

Elon Musk in Paris in France in June 2023 © Alain JOCARD / AFP / Archives

"But it seems a little unbalanced," he says, because Elon Musk "has a kid's attitude", unlike Mark Zuckerberg.

The gap between the two personalities seems to benefit the co-founder of Facebook, who suffered, for several years, from a degraded reputation.

The latter was the result of the mixture of a supposedly immoderate taste for power, an alleged lack of empathy, icy and robotic communication, but above all cases related to the use of personal data by Facebook, in the first place the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in 2018.

"These Musk attacks have done nothing but burnish Zuckerberg's image," said analyst Rob Enderle.

In addition, Threads has blown a breath of fresh air on Meta and its boss, at least as much for its differences in management with Twitter as for its own characteristics.

The new social network currently enjoys a grace period, uncontroversial, although it may not last. It thus offers a stable and predictable alternative to disappointed Twitter users, scalded by its boiling owner.

"The attraction to profit, that, I am able to understand," describes analyst Carolina Milanesi, "whereas in the case of Twitter, we are in the presence of a rich man centered on himself, who has abject ethical values."

The rivalries between big bosses, tech and beyond, are not new, nor are the bloodshots of some.

Two of the greatest personalities of the new economy, the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, and that of Microsoft, Bill Gates, have maintained for decades a relationship mixing contempt and admiration.

Bill Gates' successor, Steve Ballmer, "overturned the furniture when people left (Microsoft) for Google," recalls Rob Enderle. "But that," he says, referring to Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, "is delusional."

© 2023 AFP