Tesla CEO and Billionaire Elon Musk bought 9.2% of shares in Twitter, raising his valuation and making him the largest single shareholder in the social media company. The amount he paid is not known, but the stake was worth $2.89 billion as of Friday before, after the Monday morning announcement, it went up to $3.5 billion (thanks, CNN).
Musk bought 73,486,938 shares from Twitter on March 14, by a filing by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing did not include anything about Musk’s future intentions for the company.
Interestingly, this purchase came a few weeks before Musk ‘announced’ that he was considering establishing a new social media platform. He, of course, took to twitter as he pondered this, writing on March 26:
Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public square, failure to adhere to the principles of free speech fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done? https://t.co/aPS9ycji37March 26, 2022
The above tweet was followed by a poll, with Musk asking his 80.2 million followers if they believed Twitter adhered to the values of free speech. After just over two million votes, 70.4% said no.
Musk is, far more than most CEOs, a regular social media user and sometimes a troll. He regularly tweets business and life updates, but these are mixed with gnomic statements, memes, and straight shit. Musk has gotten into serious trouble at times, most notably when he tweeted asking whether he should take Tesla private: which understandably made the company’s valuation zigzagging and resulted in the SEC taking action against him.
While that dispute was resolved, it resulted in continued scrutiny, and in February, Musk’s lawyers were protest against the SECsaying, “The SEC appears to be targeting Musk and Tesla for a relentless investigation in large part because Musk remains an outspoken critic of the government’s impartially enforceable laws.”
Which is a useful context to keep in mind with the whole free speech angle: it means different things whether you’re a normie or a billionaire CEO. Musk described himself as “an absolutist of free speech” in the past (there in the context of refusing to ban Russian news sources from Starlink.)
Musk’s 9.2% stake isn’t enough for him to jump in and start running Twitter, but it does make him the largest single shareholder involved: on the other hand, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey owns 2.25%.
Well, things are sure to get interesting on twitter dot com. But at least we can be sure that Elon Musk’s Jet, an automated account that tracks your flights around the world, won’t have its rights harmed:
Now back on the way after a two day visit to Berlin. https://t.co/gxqwx6aggKApril 3, 2022