Does Tesla CEO Elon Musk really want to buy Twitter?

Does Tesla CEO Elon Musk really want to buy Twitter?

Elon Musk putting the deal on hold and Twitter board’s refusal to speak on the matter seems to cast a shadow on the Twitter deal. It remains to be seen if Musk will go through with the deal.

Does Tesla CEO Elon Musk really want to buy Twitter?
Does Tesla CEO Elon Musk really want to buy Twitter?

Elon Musk-Twitter saga keeps taking a new turn everyday. Ever since the Tesla CEO announced his plans of buying the micro-blogging platform, there have been countless twists and turns that have not only cast a shadow on whether or not the acquisition will take place but also on how the acquisition will take place, if it does.

From Twitter’s board adopting a poison pill defence to thwart Musk’s (or anyone else’s) efforts of forcefully taking over the company, to Musk sharing his ‘best and final’ offer with Twitter’s board to The Boring Company founder putting the deal ‘temporarily on hold’, nothing about this on-going acquisition has been simple or straight forward.

Here is a quick rundown of what has happened so far:

January 31: Musk quietly starts buying Twitter’s shares and by March 14 he had acquired over five percent stake in the company.

March 24: Musk began publicly critiquing Twitter. “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?,” he wrote in a tweet. In a subsequent tweet he asks if there was a need for a new platform.

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Several users suggest that Musk should consider buying Twitter instead.

April 4: Musk’s share in Twitter becomes public and an SEC filing discloses that he had acquired a 9.2 percent stake in the company, which also made him the single largest shareholder.

April 5: Musk becomes an active investor in Twitter. On the same day, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Twitter’s board offer Musk to join their ranks.

April 9: Musk tweeted that he was looking forward to working with Agrawal and the board. He also rejected the company’s offer to join its board members.

April 11: Twitter CEO announces that Musk had rejected the offer to join Twitter’s board.

April 14: Musk discloses that he made an offer to Twitter’s board to buy the company at $54.20 per share, which valued the company at around $43 billion making it the largest acquisition in the tech world.

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April 15: Twitter’s board adopts a poison pill defence to thwart Musk’s hostile takeover attempt.

On the same day, Musk tweeted a Goldman Sachs February report on Twitter, which valued the company at $30 per share. Musk then questions the board as to why it doesn’t find its offer of $54.20 per share not good when it was valued at $30 per share two months ago?

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April 21: Musk lines up $46.5 billion for funding the Twitter deal. Musk committed to out up to $33.5 billion of his own money, which will include $21 billion of equity and $12.5 billion of margin loans. In addition to this, Morgan Stanley reportedly agreed to provide $13 billion to Musk for the purpose.

April 24: Twitter’s board held discussions with Musk with detailed discussions over the financing option. The discussions lasted for two days.

April 26: Twitter announces that Musk will buy Twitter. “Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important,” Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal said on the occasion.

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May 4: Musk about making Twitter profitable by introducing a ‘slight cost’ for government and commercial users. He also said that the platform will remain free for casual users.

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May 13: Musk said that the Twitter deal had been put on hold temporarily. The decision has been made after Twitter’s filed a report claiming that less than five percent of its active users represent spam/fake accounts. The same day, Musk said that he remained committed to the acquisition.

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May 15: Elon Musk shared a thread on Twitter wherein he claimed that users were being manipulated by Twitter’s algorithms. “I’m not suggesting malice in the algorithm, but rather that it’s trying to guess what you might want to read and, in doing so, inadvertently manipulate/amplify your viewpoints without you realizing this is happening,” he wrote.

May 15: Musk went on a war of words with the Twitter CEO over the use of bots on the platform. To counter Musk, Agrawal shared a rather long Twitter thread explaining how spams work and what Twitter was doing to counter them.

May 17: Musk sternly said that the Twitter acquisition deal cannot move forward unless Twitter proves that less than five percent of accounts on its platform were bots.

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May 25: Uncertainty looms over the Twitter acquisition deal. While on one hand, Twitter’s investors blocked an ally of Elon Musk — Egon Durban–to the board at an annual meeting. Musk remained missing from the meeting while Twitter’s executives dodged questions about the company’s impending acquisition. “We’re working through the transaction process,” CEO Parag Agrawal said during the meeting while refusing to discuss the matter, Engadget reported.

Musk has many reasons to buy Twitter, none of which involve altruism.

Besides the fact that Musk believes that he can help Twitter a page towards profitability, there are several reasons why Musk could be interested in the micro-blogging platform.

If you have followed the SpaceX CEO over the years, you would know that Musk’s tweets have landed him in trouble in the past. Back in 2018, Tesla and Musk agreed to pay a sum of $40 million to settle the charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over a tweet wherein the Tesla CEO claimed that he had secured funding to take Tesla private.

In addition to the fine, the settlement also required Musk to step down as Tesla’s chairman and the company to put parental controls in place to check Musk’s communications. Also, his tweet calling the British cave explorer who helped kids stuck in a cave in Thailand ‘a pedo guy’ earned him a lawsuit, which he later won.

Simply put, Musk is an avid Twitter user and it’s his use of the platform that has costed him dearly. So, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to say that he wants to have some control over the platform that he uses so frequently. What adds to this hypothesis is Musk’s insisting on having an ‘edit button’.

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Though the Twitter CEO did confirm later that the company’s announcement regarding testing an edit button had nothing to do with the Tesla CEO, but the timing was rather coincidental.

Also, buying a company is easier than starting one from scratch. After all, we all know the truth about Donald Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social.

Or Musk’s could be following Bezos’ footsteps by diversifying his portfolio and buying a company for less value than what it has potential to grow into in the coming years. To recall Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013.

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That said, Musk’s interest or lack of interest, there of, is also a sign.

Musk has complained about spam bots on Twitter several times in the past.

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His move of putting the deal on hold, rather, his condition of having Twitter prove that less than five percent of accounts on the company’s platform are bots for the deal to take place, especially when the terms of acquisition have been finalised, seems to indicate that Musk is losing interest in the deal.

And, Twitter’s board refusal to address the matter at the company’s shareholder’s meeting, which also witnessed Twitter founder Jack Dorsey stepping down from the company’s board, indicates a sense of uncertainty that is looming over the company internally.

Under the circumstances, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Twitter has fallen off Musk’s grace and that he might be mulling over his decision to buy the company.

If that happens, that is, if Musk backs down from the deal, he will have to pay $1 billion to Twitter’s board. But then, what’s $1 billion for the world’s richest man?!

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