Thud (media company)

Thud was a satirical media company founded by Ben Berkley, Cole Bolton, and Elon Musk in 2017. The company launched satirical websites and products. After Musk pulled his funding, the company went defunct in May 2019.


In 2014, Elon Musk expressed interest in purchasing satirical news site The Onion, however, the purchase did not make it past preliminary negotiations.[1] In 2017, two former Onion editors who had left the site due to creative differences, Ben Berkley and Cole Bolton, were offered $2,000,000 in funding by Musk to start a satirical media company focused on real-world events.[2] Berkley and Bolton began building out the company by hiring several other Onion writers and editors.[1][3] In March of 2018, Musk formally announced the venture by tweeting "Thud!" followed by "That's the name of my new intergalactic media empire, exclamation point optional."[4][5] Musk claimed that the name was chosen because "It’s the sound something thick and dull makes when it hits the ground."[6][7]

Sometime around the end of 2018, Musk sold the company to Berkely and Bolton, citing concerns that Thud might satirize his own companies.[8][9] While the two were able to launch several satirical projects over the course of six months, they were unable to find new investors. Berkeley and Bolton spent the remaining funds from Musk's investment on web hosting and the company shut down in May of 2019.[9][10]


Thud's public reception was mixed. Upon its public launch in 2019, a review in Vulture praised the fact that Thud credited its contributors and the darker outlook its satire took but criticized some projects as playing into outdated tropes.[11] Several outlets praised "DNA Friend," a project satirizing at-home DNA testing.[12][13] After the company shut down, Bolton told The Verge that the investors they reached out to generally did not understand what Thud was satirizing.[9] In a 2021 retrospective in Mic, Amanda Silberling criticized Thud's projects, describing them as failing "to live up to the hype of an Elon Musk-funded ex-Onion powerhouse."[2]



  1. ^ a b Tani, Maxwell (2018-03-14). "Elon Musk Wanted to Buy 'The Onion,' Now His Team's Hiring Its Staffers for a Secret Project". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  2. ^ a b Siberling, Amanda (2021-05-08). "Elon Musk's first foray into comedy was a strange, satirical website called Thud". Mic. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  3. ^ Spangler, Todd (2018-05-14). "Elon Musk Says He's Formed a Media Company Called 'Thud' After Hiring Ex-Staffers of The Onion". Variety. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  4. ^ Liao, Shannon (2018-05-14). "Elon Musk says his comedy project with former Onion staffers is called Thud!". The Verge. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  5. ^ Elon Musk [@elonmusk] (2018-03-14). "That's the name of my new intergalactic media empire, exclamation point optional" (Tweet). Retrieved 2022-11-19 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Arif, Shabana (2018-03-15). "Elon Musk Launches Media Company Thud, Hires Former Onion Execs". IGN. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  7. ^ Menegus, Bryan (2018-03-14). "Elon Musk Starts Media Business, Possibly Named 'Thud!'". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  8. ^ Nover, Scott (2019-03-04). "A Satire Venture Co-founded by Elon Musk Arrives With a Thud". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  9. ^ a b c Kastrenakes, Jacob (2019-07-02). "Elon Musk wanted The Onion; he got Thud". The Verge. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  10. ^ Thakker, Prem (2022-11-16). "Remember That Time Elon Musk Tried to Start a Comedy Website?". The New Republic. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  11. ^ a b c d e Boone, Brian (2019-03-12). "That Long-Promised Elon Musk Comedy Site Is Finally Live. So What Do We Think of It?". Vulture. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  12. ^ Farr, Christina (2019-03-18). "Elon Musk-backed company launches a website to poke fun at DNA testing — and it's hilarious". CNBC. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  13. ^ "DNA Friend, once-backed by Elon Musk, launches hilarious genetic testing website". Tech2. 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  14. ^ "TacStorm". TacStorm. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  15. ^ "6 Minute Test". 6 Minute Test. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  16. ^ a b Fabiani, Alma (2021-05-12). "Before hosting SNL, Elon Musk first dabbled in comedy with the satire project Thud". Screenshot. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  17. ^ "DNA Friend". DNA Friend. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  18. ^ "Ploog". Ploog. Retrieved 2022-11-19.

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