//

Elon Musk finally bought Twitter for $44 billion after so much drama for “free speech” this month

Finally, the April's 2022 longest gossip come to an end

3 mins read
Elon Musk finally bought Twitter for $44 billion after so much drama for “free speech” this month
(Source: Twitter/Twitter Feed)

On Monday, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion in cash, transferring ownership of the social media platform populated by millions of users and world leaders to the world’s richest person.

It’s a game-changer for the 16-year-old company, which rose to become one of the world’s most influential public squares but now faces dozens of new obstacles.

Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” has condemned Twitter’s moderation. He wants Twitter’s algorithm for prioritizing tweets to be made public, and he favors giving advertisers too much control over the platform.

Political activists predict that under a Musk presidency, there will be less moderation and the reinstatement of banned individuals such as former President Donald Trump. Conservatives applauded the idea of fewer rules, while human rights activists expressed concerns about an increase in hate speech.

Musk has also argued for changes to the service that would make it more user-friendly, including an edit button and a way to defeat “spam bots” that send out a large number of unwanted tweets.

Advertisement

The deal’s discussions advanced over the weekend when Musk wooed Twitter shareholders with financial details of his proposal, which appeared unclear last week.

Twitter began negotiating with Musk to buy the company at Musk’s suggested $54.20 per share price under pressure.

In a statement, Musk added, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to humanity’s future are debated.”

Late Monday, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted about the deal, thanking both Musk and new Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal for “getting the company out of an impossible situation.”

“Twitter as a company has always been my sole issue and my biggest regret. It has been owned by Wall Street and the ad model. Taking it back from Wall Street is the correct first step,” he said.

On Monday, Twitter’s stock surged 5.7 percent to $51.70. The purchase price is over 40% more than the closing price the day before Musk announced his purchase of more than 9% of the company.

Nonetheless, the offer is far lower than the $70 range at which Twitter was trading last year.

Advertisement

“I think if the company was given enough time to transform, we would have made substantially more than what Musk is currently offering,” said Jonathan Boyar, managing director at Boyar Value Group, which holds a stake in Twitter.

However, he added, “If the public markets do not properly value a company, an acquirer eventually will.”

Musk’s decision follows in the footsteps of other billionaires who have purchased control of important media platforms, such as Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post in 2013.

Musk has secured $25.5 billion in debt and margin loan funding, as well as a $21 billion equity commitment, according to Twitter.

According to Forbes, Musk is worth $268 billion and has stated that the economics of Twitter is not his primary focus.

“Having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization. I don’t care about the economics at all,” he said in a recent public talk.

Advertisement

Musk is the CEO of both Tesla Inc and SpaceX, and it’s unclear how much time he’ll spend on Twitter or what he’ll do with it.

“We don’t know which direction the platform will go once the deal closes,” Agrawal told employees on Monday.

In a note to clients, Edward Moya, an analyst at currency broker OANDA, said the deal was “great news for Twitter shareholders as it doesn’t seem like the company was going to get things right anytime soon.”

But he also said: “Tesla shareholders can’t be happy that Musk will have to divert even more attention away from winning the EV (electric vehicle) race.”

Despite this, Musk’s 84 million Twitter followers are seen as an important free public relations and marketing tool for Tesla.

The board of directors of Twitter approved the deal, which is now up for a shareholder vote. Analysts believe there will be no regulatory roadblocks.

Advertisement

When Musk presented his financing plan and no other bidders surfaced, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives claimed the company’s board of directors was “against the wall.”

Despite being a tenth of the size of far larger social media platforms like Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, Twitter has been attributed for helping to spawn the Arab Spring revolt and accused of playing a role in the storming of the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

After Twitter banned Trump over concerns around incitement of violence following the U.S. Capitol attack by his supporters, Musk tweeted: “A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech.”

In a Fox News interview on Monday, Trump, whose company is building a Twitter competitor called Truth Social, claimed he will not return to the platform.

Advertisement

President Joe Biden has long been concerned about the dominance of social media platforms, according to the White House, which declined to comment on Musk’s deal on Monday.

“Our concerns are not new,” said White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, adding that the platforms need to be held accountable. “The president has long talked about his concerns about the power of social media platforms, including Twitter and others, to spread misinformation.”

Shubham Sawarkar

I appreciate doing research on interesting things. If you're interested in contributing content, please contact me at shubham@gadgetbond.com