'It's clear that Mark Zuckerberg idolizes Elon Musk,' Wall Street analyst says

Mark Zuckerberg (left) and Elon Musk.Kevin Dietsch/Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

  • Mark Zuckerberg said Meta is adding a verification subscription service to Facebook and Instagram.

  • Meta’s new product mirrors Twitter’s verification subscription business launched under Elon Musk.

  • Wall Street analyst Mark Schilsky says idolatry is at play.

Elon Musk’s ownership of social media giant Twitter may be changing his relationship with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Sunday that he was rolling out Meta Verified, the company’s new verification subscription service for Facebook and Instagram — just months after Twitter relaunched its verification-based subscription business, Twitter Blue, under new owner and CEO Elon Musk.

Meta Verified “sounds awfully like Twitter Blue,” Bernstein analyst Mark Schilsky said in a note to clients this week. “I think it’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg idolizes Elon Musk.”

The analyst also thinks it’s a smart move, expecting that Meta could generate $360 million in revenue annually from the new subscription service. Other analysts on Wall Street more optimistically believe that Meta Verified could add $2 billion per year in revenue, as Insider recently reported.

Schilsky’s comment is especially interesting, however, given the history between the two tech billionaires. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have been publicly criticizing each other for years — at least since a SpaceX rocket exploded on the launchpad in 2016, destroying a Facebook satellite.

Elon and Zuck have a long history of rivalry

The pair have frequently criticized each other’s views on artificial intelligence. In 2018, Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX’s profiles were removed from Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal emerged. The Tesla CEO also took to Twitter to say “#DeleteFacebook It’s lame.”

The disparagement didn’t stop there. When a group of violent protestors stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Musk tweeted a meme that showed a domino effect with the sentence “a website to rate women on campus,” a throwback to Facebook’s early days, next to the first domino piece and journalist Mark Leibovich’s tweet “The Capitol seems to be under the control of a man in a viking hat” as the last domino piece set to fall.

Schilsky may have a point, though. Musk gutted Twitter in the first week of November, shortly after seizing full ownership in October. Meta’s own announced days later a mass layoff — the first in the company’s history. While there had been smaller layoffs across tech over the summer, the Twitter and Meta layoffs marked the beginning of what we now know as a brutal season of layoffs across the sector.

And now, with the launch of Meta Verified, Zuckerberg appears to be taking a page from Elon Musk’s so-far underwhelming drive to generate more subscription revenue from its users.

Musk, for his part, is still new to running a social-media empire like Twitter, and has expressed a plan to pass the reins to a still-unnamed successor. It remains to be seen how much Musk will learn from Zuckerberg. So far, the Twitter owner has met with civil rights groups and ad execs to discuss concerns around Twitter’s platform, something Zuckerberg and other social media execs have had to do to restore faith and trust in their platforms, too.

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