Elon Musk’s X Corp. seen taking down giant glowing sign in San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk marked San Francisco as the spot for X Corp. over the weekend, erecting a giant lighted X sign on top of the company’s headquarters Friday.

On Monday, CNBC saw workers dismantling the glowing X, removing its lights and an arm of the letter, after the construction drew criticism from neighbors and city officials. By 1 p.m., the sign had been removed from the roof.

Twenty-four complaints have been initiated with San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspections, a spokesman said. Those filing the complaints said the sign was put up without a permit, is unsafe, and is a nuisance. One said that its flashing lights made it hard for residents to sleep.

“This morning, building inspectors observed the structure being dismantled,” Patrick Hannan, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, said in an email. He added that a building permit is required to take the sign down, but said it can be secured later because of safety concerns.

“The property owner will be assessed fees for the unpermitted installation of the illuminated structure,” Hannan said. “The fees will be for building permits for the installation and removal of the structure, and to cover the cost of the Department of Building Inspection and the Planning Department’s investigation.”

The saga over the glowing sign is the latest example of Musk’s impulsive approach to running the company formerly known as Twitter. Musk has slashed staff, named former NBCUniversal advertising executive Linda Yaccarino as CEO, and put core features behind a monthly subscription since he purchased the company for $44 billion in October.

But perhaps Musk’s riskiest move came last week when he changed the name of the company and service from “Twitter” to “X,” a change that experts say could wipe out years of brand awareness. Musk said he believes X should be an “everything app” that handles banking, messaging, and video in addition to social media.

“Time to update,” Yaccarino wrote in a post about the logo change Friday.

City officials Friday issued a notice of violation to X Corp. for installing the sign without approval. According to public records on the department’s website, representatives for X Corp. repeatedly declined to “provide access” to inspectors who visited the building.

City officials said in a complaint they were told by Twitter the structure was a “temporary lighted sign for an event.”

It’s possible that the sign is only being temporarily dismantled for improvements or to get city approval.

This is not the first time X has clashed with San Francisco building inspectors. When Musk took over Twitter last year, he faced investigations by the city over building code violations, including that some rooms at the office were turned into “hotel rooms.”

X’s headquarters is in a part of downtown San Francisco that has attracted national attention for elevated levels of homelessness and crime. In posts on his social media platform over the weekend, Musk said the city was in a “doom spiral” but said that X would not move.

“San Francisco, beautiful San Francisco, though others forsake you, we will always be your friend,” Musk posted on X.

A representative for X didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.


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