He rose to prominence aged 17 after becoming the first person in the world to hack an iPhone. “Geohot”, as the coder styles himself, repeated the same trick with Sony’s PlayStation a few years later.
He soon moved onto the world of artificial intelligence and founded car automation startup Comma.AI while still in his mid-20s. A lengthy Bloomberg profile on Hotz and his project from 2015 said he was “taking on Google and Tesla by himself.”
It was around this period that Hotz first met Elon Musk after being introduced by a mutual friend. The billionaire was impressed by the curly-haired coder’s knowledge of artificial intelligence technology in vehicle automation, which is to this day still a cutting-edge field. Musk offered him a job at Tesla.
“I appreciate the offer, but like I said, I’m not looking for a job,” Hotz recalled responding.
This time though, he hasn’t turned down the opportunity. Hotz is now in charge of improving search on Twitter. He has three months to make his mark on a very visible feature used by most, if not all, of Twitter’s 229m daily users.
Hires like Hotz signal Musk’s thinking on what the future of Twitter might look like. Not only does the new owner want coders with top-end technical skills, he wants people who don’t have the strong left-wing bias he perceived among Silicon Valley’s old guard.
A post on Hotz’s personal blog earlier this year suggests libertarian leanings: “The problem with the state is that it is bad, not that the wrong people are in it. If everyone renounced their desire for power over others tomorrow, I’d have no worries about the future.”
“If you cannot renounce this desire, f— off. You are the problem,” he adds.
While musing about the role of belief systems in society on his blog, George Hotz took shot at left-wing US institutions, writing: “So the obvious solution seems like the construction of a better church, to compete with Harvard and the New York Times, perhaps one more oriented toward truth and less toward ‘status’.”