When it was disclosed that Mr. Musk had been buying up Twitter’s stock, the firm consented to be taken over for $54.20 per share, a 38 percent premium over the share price.
Elon Musk agreed to acquire Twitter for $44 billion on Monday, becoming the world’s richest person to do so. The popular social network is frequented by world leaders, celebrities, and cultural trendsetters.
Mr. Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share, a 38 percent premium over the company’s share price just before he revealed he was the company’s single largest shareholder earlier this month. According to data provided by Dealogic, it would be the largest deal to take a firm private in at least two decades — something Mr. Musk has suggested he will do with Twitter.
Mr. Musk said in a statement announcing the transaction, “Free speech is the backbone of a functional democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where subjects crucial to the future of humanity are debated.” “Twitter has enormous potential, and I’m excited to work with the company and the Twitter community to realize it.”
The purchase, which has received full board approval, is likely to finalize this year, subject to a vote of Twitter shareholders and regulatory approvals.
The historic agreement brings to a close what had appeared to be an implausible endeavor by Mr. Musk, 50, to acquire the social media business — and instantly raises questions about what he would do with the platform and how his actions will impact global online expression.
The billionaire, who has over 83 million Twitter followers and has romped through the network hurling insults and jokes, has stated repeatedly that he wants to “change” the platform by encouraging greater free speech and allowing users more control over what they see. By taking the company private, Mr. Musk could work on the service out of sight of the prying eyes of investors, regulators and others by taking the company private.
Twitter’s chairman, Bret Taylor, said the board had “conducted a thoughtful and exhaustive process to review Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, clarity, and finance” in a statement. The proposed transaction will provide a significant cash premium to Twitter investors, and we believe it is the best path ahead for the company’s stockholders.”
Mr. Musk has had a tumultuous history with online expression. He tried to shut down a Twitter account that followed his private jet’s movements this year, citing personal and safety concerns. He wrote on Monday that he hoped his harshest detractors would stay on Twitter because “that is what free speech is all about.”
“Without any conditions for Musk to purchase Twitter, including the platform’s community standards and recourse to ban users who violate those standards, Twitter could set a dangerous precedent for other social media companies to follow,” said Bridget Todd, director of the women’s rights organization Ultraviolet. “This is a dangerously slick slope.”
Twitter is being questioned regarding its economic practices in addition to its speech issues. For years, the company has battled to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Twitter’s ad business, which is its primary source of revenue, has been unreliable. For eight of the last ten years, Twitter has not made a profit.
It’s unclear how hands-on Mr. Musk intends to be at Twitter. One of the unknown questions is who he would choose to oversee the company and how active he would be in the day-to-day operations. Mr. Musk is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, as well as Neuralink, which intends to create a computer interface for the human brain, and the Boring Company, which builds tunnels.
— Lauren Hirsch and Mike Isaac
The CEO of Twitter will hold a meeting with staff to discuss the purchase.
Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s CEO, notified staff that he will meet with them on Monday afternoon to discuss the social media company’s sale to Elon Musk.
Mr. Agrawal said in an email to workers shortly after Mr. Musk revealed that his bid for Twitter had been accepted, “I know this is a huge change and you’re likely processing what this means for you and Twitter’s future.” For the staff question-and-answer session, Mr. Agrawal said he would be joined by Bret Taylor, the head of Twitter’s board of directors.
Employees at Twitter claimed they were angry that they had heard little from management about what the takeover meant for them over the last two weeks as the battle raged on.
Elon Musk may be perplexing at times, and his views are opaque, making it tough to predict exactly what the billionaire would do if he were to acquire Twitter. In interviews, regulatory papers, and, of course, on his Twitter account, Mr. Musk has provided additional signals about what he would do about Twitter in the weeks and months leading up to Monday’s transaction with the firm.
Here are some of the primary issues Mr. Musk would want to address:
Moderators of content and free speech Mr. Musk has expressed concern that Twitter’s content moderators go too far in intervening on the platform, which he views as the internet’s “de facto town square.”
“Free speech is the backbone of a healthy democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where things crucial to the future of humanity are argued,” Mr. Musk said in the press release announcing the partnership.
“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by adding new features, opening up the algorithms to boost trust, beating spam bots, and authenticating all people,” he continued. “Twitter has enormous potential, and I’m excited to work with the company and the Twitter community to realize it.”
Mr. Musk stated in a tweet on Monday that he hoped even his “worst critics” continued to use the site “since that is what free expression entails,” ahead of the revelation of his agreement with Twitter.
The issue of Trump. Mr. Musk has remained tight-lipped about how he plans to handle former President Donald Trump’s now-banned Twitter account. However, his words about free speech have fueled speculation that Mr. Trump, who was banned from Twitter last year, may be reinstated now that he owns the company. Twitter said Mr. Trump had violated its policies by inciting violence among his followers after the melee at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Mr. Trump was also banned from Facebook for the same reason.