In August 2013 Jeff Bezos, then one of the richest people in the world, bought That Washington Post for $ 250 million. A few years later, Laurene Powell Jobs, which operates Emerson Collective, acquired a majority stake in Atlantic Ocean for more than $ 100 million. In 2018, it was billionaire Marc Beniofftrip when the founder of Salesforce picked up his own favorite publication, Time magazine, for $ 190 million. On Monday, Elon Musk improved them all and bought his own favorite version of a medium: Twitter. The deal far surpasses Bezos, Jobs and Benioffs and will cost Musk about $ 44 billion – or 167 Washington Posts-and will take Twitter privately under Musk’s leadership.
In the deal, which was announced Monday after the company’s stock was halted, Twitter announced that shareholders would receive $ 54.20 in cash for each share in Twitter’s ordinary shares they owned at the close of the proposed transaction. Twitter said in a statement that the deal was “unanimously approved by Twitter’s board” and that it is expected to close sometime in 2022, once it has gone through regulatory approval. In the press release announcing the agreement, Musk said: “Freedom of expression is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital urban space where issues crucial to humanity’s future are discussed.” He added that “Twitter has enormous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the user community to unlock it.”
Now what? Well, it depends on who you ask.
Over the past few weeks, my phone has been blown up with text messages containing gloomy statements and questions – all of which did not need further explanation: “Insane.” “Insane!” “Crazy.” “What the hell?” “Is this real?” The publishers of these statements shared a trait: They had at some point been involved in Twitter, either working for the company, advising it, or investing in it. And the “madness,” they referred to, was Musk’s threatening and potential acquisition of Twitter. Most of them wondered that the deal would not happen, not because they did not believe Twitter was worthy of the value Musk had offered, but because they had all seen on their own how difficult it had been to run the world most influential social networks. As one person told me, “Space travel is easier than moderating content on Twitter.”
Now it seems that Musk is also learning that lesson. The question is, why on earth (or Mars) did Musk want to own this platform, which has been filled with internal chaos and corporate backbone since it was founded? A platform that undoubtedly contributed to the storm of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. A platform that has helped lead to heroic movements that have changed culture, but which have also helped to operate split and vitriol globally for the past 16 years. A platform where Musk now has to make the difficult decision of whether or not Donald J. Trump should be allowed to say what he wants, without any ramifications.
Like anyone who has ever spent time on Twitter, Musk has had a hate-love relationship with the social network for many years now. At times, he has called the platform a “war zone,” and has on several occasions said he takes a break from using it, only to return a few days (or sometimes hours) later. At other times, he has talked about how much he “loves” Twitter. He has criticized the company freedom of speech restrictions, and then also criticized the company’s content moderation. But over time, he has become more and more obsessed with it. And he has become more and more dependent on Twitter as a marketing tool for product releases, as a place where he can fight with opponents of his companies and just generally fuck with people.
[DROP] Musk’s relationship with Twitter only began to change on August 7, 2018, when he tweeted one fateful message that he “considered taking Tesla private for $ 420. Financing secured.” The Securities and Exchange Commission came after Musk for potentially misleading investors, leading to an embarrassing (and very public) lawsuit and a final settlement in which Musk had to have any tweets about his public company, Tesla, that could affect shareholder value approved. by the board. Musk got a social media passerby (an “experienced securities lawyer”) who was to monitor what he had to say. When all this happened, Twitter tethered the accounts of people who used the platform to the sick, and began banning certain accounts, and Musk began to grow frustrated the fact that “West Coast high tech” was becoming “the de facto judge of free speech.”
Then something really started to change for Musk in March this year, when US securities regulators announced that they had the authority to sue Musk in relation to the things he said on Twitter, and also urged a judge to ensure that he did not should be allowed to tweet stock moving things without consequences. A few days later, on March 26, Musk said (on Twitter) that he is “thinking seriously” about building his own social network, where freedom of speech would be the platform’s central thesis. But while it was all going on, Musk had quietly bought up shares on Twitter. On April 4, Twitter published a file noting that Musk now owned 9.2 percent of Twitter and that he was the largest personal shareholder in the company. From there, things went more chaotically and faster than almost any hostile takeover in the company’s history. Musk was to join the board of Twitter. Then he was not. Then he had to buy the company. Then he was not. Finally, three weeks later, after Musk had secured funding, Twitter had little choice but to accept the deal.
A person I spoke to, who is close to Musk, wondered that he had not originally set out to buy the company last month when he started buying Twitter shares, and that he had fully intended to join the board of Twitter with the hope that he could implement change on the social network. But along the way, something happened that had set him in motion – perhaps, this person wondered, he was told he would not be able to tweet critically to Twitter if he was a board member there. This would only set Musk in motion more. If this were the case, the last thing Musk would want is to be told by someone else what he can and cannot say in public, especially about his favorite communication tool. In this case, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.