Tesla CEO Elon Musk is now the new owner of Twitter after the company announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Musk, according to a press release. Musk will be acquiring Twitter at $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion, the release added.
This means that Twitter, which had gone public in 2013, will again become a privately-held company. Bret Taylor, Twitter’s Independent Board Chair, explained that the company’s board conducted a “thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing.”
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement. He added that he plans to bring in new features, make Twitter’s algorithms open source, defeat the spam bots, and authenticate “all real humans”.
Twitter’s shareholders will be paid out a 38 percent premium to Twitter’s closing stock price on April 1, 2022, which was the last trading day before Musk disclosed his nine percent stake. The company said that the transaction is expected to close in 2022.
Musk has repeatedly stated that Twitter should be doing a lot more around free speech. However, it remains to be seen what kind of changes Musk brings to Twitter as a platform and as a business. It is also unclear how Musk plans to address the problem of hate speech that plagues Twitter.
How did Musk come to buy Twitter?
The journey which concluded with Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was a topsy-turvy one. It started when Musk, who is one of the most avid users of the microblogging site, tweeted that Twitter was not exploiting its full potential. He accused Twitter of not upholding the values of free speech thereby “undermining democracy”.
Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.
What should be done? https://t.co/aPS9ycji37
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2022
It then came to light that Musk has bought a nine percent stake worth $3 billion, making him the largest shareholder. The investment carried with it a seat on Twitter’s board. It was revealed that Musk will be joining the company’s board.
But in a U-turn, Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal released a statement saying that Elon Musk has decided to not join the board. He did not divulge the reason behind this decision.
Elon has decided not to join our board. I sent a brief note to the company, sharing with you all here. pic.twitter.com/lfrXACavvk
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) April 11, 2022
The saga continued when Musk moved to buy the entire platform in order to implement his vision for the site. The board seemed unconvinced at first and said that it was exploring the option of a poison pill.
The news of a deal between Twitter and Musk started doing the rounds 24 hours prior to the official announcement. The New York Times had reported that a deal was imminent. It came as a surprise as the board seemed adamant about the poison pill. It seems likely they were swayed by Musk’s plan to raise funds for the deal. The world’s richest person persisted in his efforts and laid out a plan to finance the deal.
Here’s what you can read to know more about the saga
- Europe’s Digital Services Act May Tie Musk’s Hands At Twitter
- Elon Musk says he ‘doesn’t care about the economics’ of buying Twitter
- On Twitter – Why Free Speech Is Too Important to be Left in the Hands of Elon Musk
- Twitter Has a New Owner. Here’s What He Should Do.
- Elon Musk’s $21 billion mystery: Where will he get cash for Twitter?
- Elon Musk’s Twitter saga is capitalism gone rogue
We have compiled several Twitter threads that shed light on the various implications of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter:
Okay, like virtually everyone else who studies social media, I'm fascinated by @elonmusk's takeover of Twitter. Let me say upfront: I have no idea what Twitter will be like under Elon's leadership and neither do you. But that's the point.
— Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ) April 25, 2022
One of Twitter’s challenges in supporting democracy is to avoid spreading disinformation like wildfire. And content moderation isn't the only way to slow disinformation down. 🧵
— Ellen L. Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) April 25, 2022
This deal is dangerous for our democracy. Billionaires like Elon Musk play by a different set of rules than everyone else, accumulating power for their own gain. We need a wealth tax and strong rules to hold Big Tech accountable.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 25, 2022
I'm not really sure how or why it happened — and at some point it should be studied with the perspective of some temporal distance – but the neediest, most ardent, and most passionate censorship crusaders are the tattletale-employees of media corporations like this: https://t.co/dqEy57O3Qw
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 25, 2022
- Twitter flags India’s content removal laws and penalties as a risk to its business operations
- Here’s why Twitter’s experimental downvote feature is problematic
- Twitter will now take down pictures uploaded without permission of the depicted person
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