The deal, which will take the company private, caps a dizzying period in which the Tesla and SpaceX CEO became one of Twitter’s biggest shareholders, was offered and declined a seat on its board and an offer to buy. the company, all in less than a month.
Under the terms of the deal, shareholders will receive $54.20 in cash for each share of Twitter they own, matching Musk’s original offer and marking a 38% premium to the share price the day before Musk disclosed his deal. participation in the company.
“Freedom of expression 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 Monday. “Twitter has enormous potential; I look forward to working with the company and the user community to unlock it.”
The deal, which was unanimously approved by Twitter’s board of directors, is expected to close this year. It comes after Musk revealed last week that he had secured $46.5 billion in financing to acquire the company, an apparent turning point that forced Twitter’s board of directors to seriously consider the deal. The board met on Sunday to assess Musk’s offer.
“Twitter’s board of directors undertook a thoughtful and comprehensive process to evaluate Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty and funding,” Twitter Independent Board Chairman Bret Taylor said in a statement. statement, calling the deal “the best way forward for Twitter shareholders.” »
Twitter shares rose nearly 6% after the deal was announced, hovering around $51.84, just shy of the offer price. The deal is pending shareholder and regulatory approval.
In an internal message to employees obtained by CNN, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said he would hold a general meeting with Taylor on Monday afternoon to answer questions about the deal. “I know this is a significant change and you’re probably processing what this means for you and the future of Twitter,” he said.
What Musk Means to Twitter
Musk is a high-profile and controversial Twitter user. He has more than 83 million followers on the platform, which he has used over the years for everything from sharing memes and talking about his companies to insulting politicians, spreading misleading claims about Covid-19 and making offensive comments about the transgender community.
Musk has repeatedly emphasized in recent days that his goal is to bolster free speech on the platform and work to “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential.”
In his Monday statement, Musk said he wants to “make Twitter better than ever by improving the product with new features, making algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating spam bots, and authenticating all humans.” ». Separately, he said in a tweet Monday that he hopes “even my worst critics stay on Twitter, because that’s what free speech means.”
Still, some industry insiders worry that Musk’s desire for free speech on Twitter could mean rolling back some of the platform’s work to curb hate speech, misinformation, harassment and other harmful content. Others questioned whether Musk could restore former President Donald Trump’s account, which was deleted early last year for violating Twitter’s policies against incitement to violence following Capitol Riot. Such a move could have significant ramifications for the upcoming 2024 US presidential election.
Although Twitter is smaller than some social media rivals, it has a huge influence in the online and offline worlds because it is used by many politicians, public figures, and journalists, and has at times acted as a model for other platforms on how to handle harmful content. .
“Do not allow Twitter to become a petri dish for hate speech or falsehoods that subvert our democracy,” said Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, in a statement to Musk on Monday after the agreement.
A new and uncertain era for Twitter
In the days since Musk’s initial offering, many of the company’s followers have wondered if Twitter would try to find another buyer, especially after the company implemented a poison pill to make it harder for Musk to acquire the company without their approval.
But CFRA senior equity analyst Angelo Zino said Monday that the Twitter board that considered Musk’s offer more seriously may have come “from the board’s understanding that an alternative ‘white knight’ offer may be hard to come by, especially after the drop in social media company asset prices in recent weeks/months.”
It’s unclear whether Agrawal, who took over as CEO from founder Jack Dorsey in November, will remain in the top job after the acquisition. Musk previously tweeted a meme comparing Agrawal to former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Musk also said in his offer letter to buy Twitter that he doesn’t “trust management.”
The deal, however, could end nearly a decade of chaos at Twitter as a public company, during which it cycled through CEOs, battled with an activist investor and struggled to fuel growth and successfully monetize its influential user base.
Agrawal said in Monday’s statement that “Twitter has purpose and relevance that impacts the world.” He added: “Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”
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