Elon Musk hit out at brands that have pulled their advertising from X after he endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory on the social media platform.
Mr. Musk apologized for the post at the DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday, but said that the advertisers were attempting to “blackmail” him. His message for those brands was simple: “Don’t advertise” and used an expletive multiple times to emphasize his point.
About 200 big advertisers, including Disney, Apple and IBM, stopped spending on X after Mr. Musk agreed with a post that accused Jewish communities of pushing “hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” If the freeze continues, it could end up costing the company up to $75 million this quarter, according to internal documents seen by The New York Times.
Although Mr. Musk acknowledged that an extended boycott could bankrupt X, he suggested that the public would blame the brands rather than him for its collapse.
Mr. Musk singled out Bob Iger, the Disney chief executive, who told the event earlier that “the association with that position, and Elon Musk, and X was not necessarily a positive one for us.”
Mr. Musk said that, in retrospect, he should not have replied to that particular post and “should have written in greater length what I meant.”
He added, “I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me and to those who are antisemitic and for that I am quite sorry.”
Investment banks sitting on billions in debt that helped enable his acquisition of the company last year will probably not be happy about Mr. Musk’s aggressive stance. Advertising accounts for most of X’s revenue and Mr. Musk hired an industry veteran, Linda Yaccarino, to help mend ties with big brands. Ms. Yaccarino was in the audience when he made his comments.
Lauren Hirsch contributed reporting.