Elon Musk, the richest man in the world with a net worth of $221.5 billion, bought Twitter on October 27. After months of lawsuits, verbal mud-sliding and the near miss of a full-blown trial, Musk completed a $44 billion deal to inherit the ownership of the social media service. The day following his historic purchase, he tweeted, “the bird is freed”, referring to the acquisition and the idea he has for Twitter to be a ‘common digital town square’.
Despite proving to be a joyous day for Musk, it wasn’t as fruitful for some of the key members of Twitter’s leadership team. Parag Agrawal, the chief executive of Twitter, Ned Segal, the chief financial officer, Vijaya Gadde, the top legal and policy executive, and Sean Edgett, the general counsel, were fired on the day of the purchase. Agrawal and Segal were escorted out of the building as analysts expect Musk to become the new Twitter CEO.
Elon Musk, 51, started investing in Twitter earlier this year. In January, he began making regular purchases of Twitter Inc. shares, and by March he had a 5% stake in the firm. Institutional investors, such as the Vanguard Group, dominated the list of Twitter’s top shareholders until April, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk disclosed that he had accumulated a 9% stake. By the end of the month, he reached a deal to buy the company. The value? $44 billion. Not long after, Musk started regretting the purchase, claiming that the number of bots and spam accounts on the platform was higher than what Twitter stated. The next month, the billionaire announced that he no longer wished to buy Twitter, and the company filed a lawsuit to hold him to the deal, in the Delaware Court. Judge Kathaleen McCormick gave Elon Musk until October 28 to complete the purchase of $44 billion, an amount he tried to negotiate down with no success. On October 27, a day before the deadline, Musk announced the achievement of the buy. He now owns Twitter.
THE DREAM OF ELON MUSK
What does the richest man in the world wish for Twitter? In an open letter to Twitter advertisers, Musk expressed the reason as to why he acquired the social network was because he considered it important for the people to have a ‘common digital town square’. He also said he did it “to try to help humanity, whom I [Elon Musk] love.” Musk considers himself a ‘free-speech absolutist’, but he also believes that “Twitter cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said without consequences!” In that way, analysts agree that Twitter will not be a social media without rules regarding what can be posted and what can’t, but it will afford debates from multiple positions. In his own words, Twitter must be “warm and welcoming for all.” The entrepreneur has also expressed that his plans include “X, the app for everything”, but he has not defined what ‘X’ is, so it remains a mystery.
The wish of the billionaire to welcome everybody, and his approach to free speech, has raised the worry of how toxic content, spam and misinformation could rise. These are long-simmering issues that social media platforms are dealing with, but it has risen exponentially in the last year. Researchers have said Twitter’s rules have been essential to fight hate speech and disinformation. Experts consider that Musk’s measurements can be tested by comparing Brazil’s following second-round elections on October 30, and America’s midterm elections on November 8. Before Elon Musk owned Twitter, the company announced that it would prohibit misleading claims about voting and the outcome of the elections. Musk has not made a statement about the topic.
US republicans celebrated the acquisition of Twitter since they considered the social network censors conservative points of view on the platform. Elon Musk announced months ago that he would reverse Donald Trump’s account ban when he became the owner of Twitter because he considered the decision to be ‘foolish’. The former president declared that, in case that happens, he won’t reactivate his account, preferring to post on his social network ‘Truth Social’.
MUSK’S GOALS IN NUMBERS
When Twitter sued Elon Musk, they accused the billionaire of trying to step down the deal because of how the economic downturn has affected his personal wealth. They argued it because from the $44 billion total, Musk had agreed he would personally provide $33 billion.
Months before the acquisition, Tesla’s CEO presented a pitch deck to investors to outline his plans for the company and its financial targets. All of which are set for six years from now: