Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, reaches an agreement to buy Twitter for 44 billion dollars | Twitter
Elon Musk has struck a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter in a takeover that will give the world’s richest man control of a social network with more than 200 million users.
The sale will put Tesla’s chief executive in charge of a company he has frequently criticized, saying it has failed to live up to its potential as a ‘free speech’ platform .
Monday’s deal comes after a dramatic few weeks of speculation over Twitter’s future, sparked by the emergence of Musk as the platform’s largest single shareholder on April 4. He then declared a takeover bid on April 14, offering to buy all shares of Twitter for $54.20 each.
At first, Twitter’s board seemed opposed, enacting an anti-takeover measure known as the poison pill that could have made a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive. But his initial reluctance to agree to a deal seemed to fade after Musk confirmed funding for the deal – including $21 billion of his own money, as well as debt funding from Morgan Stanley and other institutions. financials – and shareholders warmed up.
“Free speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where issues vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Twitter has huge potential – I look forward to working with the company and users to unlock it,” he added.
Twitter said the transaction had been unanimously approved by its board of directors and is expected to close in 2022, pending regulatory approval and shareholder approval. The platform has 217 million daily active users.
“Twitter has purpose and relevance that impacts the world,” Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal said in a tweet confirming the sale. “Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”
Musk’s takeover was unexpected and controversial among Twitter employees. Speaking at a town hall meeting on Monday after the deal was announced, Agrawal told employees the social network’s future direction was uncertain.
“Once the deal is done, we don’t know which direction the platform will go,” Agrawal said. Musk will join Twitter staff for a Q&A session at a later date, the company told employees.
The company, which was launched in 2006, currently has a market capitalization of nearly $40 billion. Its co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as chief executive in November 2021, handing over the reins to Agrawal, the company’s former chief technology officer.
Musk is a heavy user of the app himself, with 83 million followers, and tweeted as early as 2017 showing interest in buying the business. He signaled that Twitter needs to be transformed into a private company in order to build trust with users and better serve what he calls the “societal imperative” of free speech.
“I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter because that’s what free speech means,” he tweeted on Monday.
How Musk will reshape the company remains to be seen, but the billionaire has proposed several changes in recent weeks. These include loosening its content restrictions, ridding the platform of fake rogue accounts, and moving away from its ad-based revenue model.
Elaborating on his goals, Musk added Monday that he wanted to “make Twitter better than ever by improving the product with new features, making algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating spambots, and authenticating all humans.”
Musk has long been a popular albeit controversial figure on the platform. And despite claiming to be a “free speech absolutist”, Musk regularly blocks social media users who have criticized him or his company and has used the platform to intimidate journalists who have written critical articles. about him or his business.
The deal is not expected to come under scrutiny from U.S. antitrust authorities because Musk’s other main business interests – Tesla, an electric car company, rocket company SpaceX and the tunneling company Boring Company – does not compete with Twitter.
It is, however, likely to draw comment from politicians and campaign organizations given Twitter’s influence as a news source and Musk’s stance on free speech. The purchase also comes amid growing criticism of the power of big tech and underscores the ability of wealthy executives to control the platforms used by millions of people.
“Regardless of who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. commented on buying on Monday.
Senator Elizabeth Warren called the deal “dangerous to our democracy.” “Billionaires like Elon Musk play by a different set of rules than everyone else, hoarding power for their own gain,” she tweeted.
Rebecca Allensworth, a law professor at Vanderbilt University, called the deal “troubling” because of the power now wielded by Musk, a concern shared by many others.
“There is something deeply troubling about a private corporation holding Twitter’s power over public speaking, especially if Twitter will be controlled by someone with such idiosyncratic views on speaking as Musk. America’s free speech law is essentially just the First Amendment, which only constrains government actors, not a company like Twitter or a person like Elon Musk,” she said.
Speculation has already begun over whether Musk will reinstate high-profile accounts that have already been taken down for violating community guidelines, including Donald Trump’s. Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in 2021 for his use of the platform to incite unrest in the US capital.
After the deal was announced, the NAACP released a statement urging Musk not to allow the 45th president back on the platform.
“Disinformation, misinformation and hate speech have NO PLACE on Twitter,” the civil rights organization said in a statement. “Don’t let 45 go back to the platform. Don’t let Twitter become a petri dish for hate speech or lies that subvert our democracy. »
Trump has so far said he won’t return to Twitter if his account is reinstated, telling Fox News on Monday: “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’s making improvements to it and he’s a man. okay, but I’ll be sticking with Truth,” a reference to his own startup Truth Social.
Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of PEN America, a nonprofit that works to protect free speech in the United States, and member of the Facebook Oversight Board, warned Musk against the “fantasy” of dismantling moderation guidelines.
“Elon Musk will learn the same lesson about autonomous social media as he does about autonomous vehicles, which is that they inevitably crash. Musk is right that our current content moderation systems are biased and flawed, but the idea that the rules can be swept away wholesale is a mistake,” Nossel said.
Musk is the richest person in the world, according to Forbes, with a fortune of nearly $279 billion. He began building his wealth in 1999 when he sold Zip2, an online mapping and business directory, for $307 million. He used his share to create what would become PayPal, sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
That same year, Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, after discovering that cost constraints were limiting NASA’s interplanetary travel. The company eventually developed cost-effective reusable rockets.
In 2004, Musk was courted to invest in Tesla, then a startup trying to build an electric car. Eventually, he became CEO and led the company to success as the world’s most valuable automaker and biggest seller of electric vehicles.
Some have wondered how Musk would divide his time and attention among all of the businesses he operates, though his track record of successful businesses is also seen as positive for Twitter.
Shares of Twitter rose 5% on Monday to $51.50 per share after the sale was announced.
Agencies provided reports