Elon Musk's Cryptic 'Excession' Tweet Leaves Users Wondering What It Means

Elon Musk's single word tweet of the word "excession" this week sparked confusion and debate as users searched for meaning.

The billionaire behind rocket company SpaceX and electric car giant Tesla has fueled headlines in recent weeks following some well-publicized tweets about cryptocurrency, specifically bitcoin and dogecoin—and many assumed there was a link.

Wild theories, some tongue-in cheek, suggested there was a deeper meaning in Musk's post, some ignoring its well-documented ties to literature.

One Twitter user claimed on Tuesday: "Elon wrote Excession on his page today as the price of coins dropped to bring them back up. He doesn't want people across the board to lose faith in coins." Another questioned: "Excession? What is that, a new coin?"

Replying to Musk, a third person theorized that excession was a reference to the crypto market now being "so large it is changing the financial institutions" and global banking. Another user added: "Excession, From author M. Banks. Banks decentralization!"


— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 23, 2021

While that jump to "decentralization" was a leap, the word is indeed the title of a book by Iain M. Banks, the fifth entry in his Culture series of science fiction novels.

A description of the book on Banks' own website reads: "Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared. Now it is back." Excession was first published back in 1996.

More recent entries in the series are Look to Windward (2000), Matter (2008), Surface Detail (2010) and The Hydrogen Sonata (2012), according to the author's website.

The term features on Urban Dictionary, a directory of slang and phrases. It is defined as "something so technologically superior that it appears as magic to the viewer."

It was not the first time Musk himself has used the word on Twitter. In December 2019, Musk said in a thread that his favorite Iain M. Banks book was "probably Excession but I'd recommend reading Player of Games & Surface Detail first. They're all great."

And in 2005, Musk was pictured holding a copy of the book, Vice reported at the time. The image was first published on Twitter by CNBC producer Jess Golden.

Elon Musk's summer read "Excession" by Iain Banks #sunvalley pic.twitter.com/9qvGgwm8Wc

— Jess Golden (@JGolden5) July 7, 2015

Musk's recent moves into the cryptocurrency world came as he endorsed bitcoin and his car company Tesla invested roughly $1.5 billion into the digital money.

The flurry of attention following the investment was likely a factor in Bitcoin's value rising to more than $58,000 for the first time last week. It has since fallen to around $50,000, with some speculating Musk's own Twitter comments played a role in the plunge.

On Twitter, Musk appeared to suggest Bitcoin was overvalued in response to comments made on February 19 by financial commentator and stockbroker Peter Schiff.

Musk said: "Money is just data that allows us to avoid the inconvenience of barter. That data, like all data, is subject to latency & error. The system will evolve to that which minimizes both. That said, BTC [bitcoin] & ETH [ethereum] do seem high lol."

Tesla shares dropped by about 8.6 percent on Monday which wiped over $15.2 billion from Musk's net worth, The Guardian reported. According to Bloomberg, Musk is now the second most richest person in the world behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. Elon Musk’s single word tweet of the word “excession” this week sparked confusion and debate as users searched for meaning. Win McNamee/Getty