Elon Musk is offering to buy Twitter, just days after the Tesla CEO said he would no longer be joining the social media company’s board of directors.
Twitter Inc. said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that Musk, who currently owns slightly more than 9% of its stock and is the company’s biggest shareholder, provided a letter to the company on Wednesday that contained a proposal to buy the remaining shares of Twitter that he doesn’t already own. Musk offered $54.20 per share of Twitter’s stock.
He called that price his best and final offer, although the billionaire provided no details on financing.
“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk says in the filing. “However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”
The buyout offer from Musk is just the latest development in his relationship with Twitter. The billionaire revealed in regulatory filings over recent weeks that he’d been buying shares in almost daily batches starting Jan. 31. Only Vanguard Group’s suite of mutual funds and ETFs controls more Twitter shares.
Musk has been a vocal critic of Twitter in recent weeks, mostly over his belief that it falls short on free speech principles. The social media platform has angered followers of Donald Trump and other far-right political figures who’ve had their accounts suspended for violating its content standards on violence, hate or harmful misinformation. Musk also has a history of his own tweets causing legal problems.
Musk said last week that he informed Twitter he wouldn’t be joining its board of directors five days after he was invited. He didn’t explain why, but the decision coincided with a barrage of now-deleted tweets from Musk proposing major changes to the company, such as dropping ads — its chief source of revenue — and transforming its San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter.
Musk left a few clues on Twitter about his thinking, such as by “liking” a tweet that summarized the events as Musk going from “largest shareholder for Free Speech” to being “told to play nice and not speak freely.”
After Musk announced his stake, Twitter quickly gave Musk a seat on its board on the condition that he not own more than 14.9% of the company’s outstanding stock, according to a filing. But Musk backed out of the deal.
Musk’s 81 million Twitter followers make him one of the most popular figures on the platform, rivaling pop stars like Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga. But his prolific tweeting has sometimes gotten him into trouble with the SEC and others.
Musk and Tesla in 2018 agreed to pay $40 million in civil fines and for Musk to have his tweets approved by a corporate lawyer after he tweeted about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 per share. That didn’t happen but the tweet caused Tesla’s stock price to jump. Musk’s latest trouble with the SEC could be his delay in notifying regulators of his growing stake in Twitter.
Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” and has said he doesn’t think Twitter is living up to free speech principles — an opinion shared by followers of Donald Trump and a number of other right-wing political figures who’ve had their accounts suspended for violating Twitter content rules.
Shares of Twitter jumped 11% before the market open. The stock is still down from its 52-week high of about $73.
20 thoughts on “Tesla CEO Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter”
Having acquired stock at a generous price in 2016, what welcomed news.
Privately owned companies rarely serve the best interests of society as a whole, as they easily avoid accountability to anyone other than the owner. Think Koch Industries and its environmental plundering all in the name of profits and power. Think the Trump Organization and its numerous fraud committed against its various customers and contractors all in the name of profits and power. Other can be named as well, but you get my point. Musk is framing his offer to buy Twitter and take it private all in the name of “free speech” would actually perpetuate the harm some actors incurred with their lies, hate, conspiracy theories, misinformation, and outright propaganda before they were prohibits from using the platform. The First Amendment does not require protection of free speech by private companies. It requires, instead, that protection only by the federal government. As always, yelling “fire!” in a crowded theatre is not, nor has it even been, protected by the Constitution. Claiming “voter fraud!” falls into the same category. Let’s hope Twitter shows Musk and his offer the door, for the goodof us all.
Your understanding of the fire shout is wrong. It is protected.
I don’t think of Musk as much of a savior, but if you read your own words from a different angle, Musk buying Twitter because he disagrees with its operating decisions is a perfectly logical progression where a public company is at issue.
Twitter exists now without his ownership, so does your first sentence apply to it currently? Or only when one particular political side (see your examples) is in control of whatever it is you’re discussing? Musk would probably tell you that the “saber rattling” exception Twitter cites for keeping Ayatollah on Twitter while removing Trump is something worth wanting to fix. I don’t know for sure there, but I do know your argument would go further if you acknowledged the very rational sides of opposing arguments.
Z L. – I don’t know in what universe you exist, but if you actually believe yelling “fire!” in a crowded theatre when no such fire exists is protected speech, I suggest you go try that and see what happens. Nothing like testing your theory to learn just how flawed your thinking is. Lastly, I won’t even bother to counter you on the “what aboutism” example of Twitter’s response to the Ayatollah’s post on its platform (personally I don’t follow the guy, so I can’t speak to whether he’s a bad as Trump was…but Trump was our president so that’s closer to home for me and matters more than a guy who is more some 6,500 miles from us).
Spending $41 billion to repeat the mistakes or Gab or Parler with Twitter seems like a poor use of $41 billion, but that’s just me. If having no moderation was something people wanted, both those sites would be much more popular.
As Twitter and Facebook found out the hard way, it’s real easy to claim you have “free speech principles” and let people run wild until someone uses your service to attempt a coup. Musk apparently is foolish (or rich) enough to think that he’ll never face consequences or actions for what happens on his site.
Then again, I also think most of the problems with Twitter would go away if they simply charged users a buck a year and took a credit card.
Regarding your reply to mine, the (often misquoted) fire quote was dicta, not law. And the holding of the case was overturned some years ago, anyways. But I get the impression you rarely revisit your leaping off point.
Also, my whataboutism? I believe your mistake was in assuming I was somehow asking for Trump to be reinstated on Twitter? No, I’m saying Musk would probably have the Ayatollah example on his list of things where there was an inconsistent application of Twitter policies. Thus, one of his reasons for wanting to buy… the public company.
And the mileage thing doesn’t matter– the Ayatollah frequently outright threatens danger with more hateful speech than is regularly removed. Again, inconsistency of policy. Unless you’re now arguing for a distance factor when Twitter is determining what posts to remove? I’m not sure.
Taking it private with an idiot at the helm will almost certainly invite federal regulation. That is the one thing they seem to have avoided so far with more careful moderation.
Z L is 100% correct, and “fire” in a crowded theater is the standard leftist justification for their cherished censorship. Everything becomes equivalent to “fire!”, such as the myth that we can have something ludicrous like “hate speech” and a First Amendment. We can’t and don’t. 1A supersedes your passionate desire to expel ideas that you don’t like from the public forum. Virtually nothing passes the “fire in a crowded theater” legal litmus test, and attempt to block undesired speech through louder counter-speech usually fall into the domain of a heckler’s veto…which is a 1A infringement.
Cue the normie defense: “Private companies have a right to decide how to run their business!” You’re absolutely correct–they DO have that right. But they can’t use this right and make any credible claims to “defending democracy” when they put the thumb on the scale of an open forum they administrate and then manipulate. This is why the corrupt Tech Oligarchs are deservedly under fire for behaving like publishers when they’re supposed to be platforms, and why there’s growing concern that the internet should receive more of the legal treatment of a public utility. Twitter can become a scuzzy echo chamber (it basically already has), but if it’s publicly traded it opens itself up to a hostile takeover by someone who calls it out for what it is, and seeks to reform it.
There’s no such thing as ANY entity, public or private, that “serve[s] the best interests of society as a whole”, and leftists’ delusion into thinking we can achieve this has helped spawn most of the 20th century totalitarianism (post-Marx). Private companies, at the very least, can fail on their own when they don’t align with a sufficient portion of the public will–they go out of business, as they should. What about when a public entity fails in the same regard? It’s nearly impossible to take them out without pitchforks or guns.
If this means legit news stories would no longer be scrubbed from their platform, I think it is worth a try.
$41B – an interesting offer!
Can someone elaborate exactly what problem Elon Mush has solved?
They’re hoping that Musk will force Twitter to admit Trump back into their user community because he (Trump) wasn’t smart enough to hire people competent enough to create a Twitter clone (or better) but rather (probably) hired them for their political leanings. This, after someone provided him with a kludge and no one paid attention to it.
Here’s a typical article bout Truth Social (the name of the current efforts):
Maybe it’s just $41 billion for an edit button.
Musk needs a few lessons about free speech in the Internet age. With barriers to publication being so low, the new form of censorship is to not stop something from being published, but to flood the space with so many lies and misinformation that anything truthful is lost in the flood.
It sounds like he wants to keep the floodgates open.
So much for democracy around the world.
It’s worked for Putin and Bannon.
Brannon/Trump … same playbook. The idea is that you can’t trust anyone but a “strong” leader. They’re your only savior.
The normies on here who think that the Washington Post has more credibility and integrity than Breitbart seem to be getting VERY annoyed by this. Here’s a revelation: NEITHER have much credibility.
If the legacy media calls it “misinformation”, the rest of us immediately assume it to be “truthful but not part of the desired narrative”.
Censorship = ideas that the Cathedral doesn’t want transmitted, not because they’re necessarily false, but because the Cathedral is unprepared to refute them
Cue the Cathedral coming up with its best counter-attack: glib preferences to “democracy”, LOL, as though their form of censorship somehow isn’t steadily eroding it in places where it once was unquestionable. Like Canada, whose Ceausescu is now issuing journalist “passes” for the privilege of covering him, which of course is clearly intended to exclude those journalistic outlets that challenge him.
Good to see you back, Lauren B. Keep it up.