Ask ten tech experts about the future of Twitter right now and you’re likely to hear at least five different answers.
Some dismiss Elon Musk’s offer of $54.20 a share to take the company public. Others take it very seriously and predict that Musk will prevail. Others, on the other hand, are expectant as they watch from afar.
“Well, this could be entertaining,” opined the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal on Thursday night.
When I posed the question about the future of Twitter to my colleague Scott Galloway, he said, “I don’t think it’s a serious offer and the market doesn’t think it’s a serious offer,” noting that stocks closed Thursday lower. down 1.7%. Galloway called Musk’s move a “false flag.” He said that “the market has interpreted this, and I think correctly, as ‘I’m about to sell my shares,’ and as a result,” the share price fell.
Other analysts were similarly skeptical. But MoffettNathanson’s Michael Nathanson said he would urge Twitter to “take this offer and run,” citing the company’s many business challenges. And financial journalist and former banker William D. Cohan said the views against Musk’s offer were all wrong: Twitter “is fried,” he wrote for Puck.
“The Twitter board’s job will be to do what it can — which isn’t much — to get the best possible deal with Musk. And it will. And Twitter will be sold to Elon Musk. That’s how the world works. His price it’s fair and there won’t be a higher bidder. That is unless Musk backs off, and walks away, which he’s been known to do.”
Musk’s plan for Twitter explained in numbers What will the Twitter board of directors say?
POR CLARE DUFFY:
It’s a strong enough offer that Twitter’s board has a responsibility to seriously consider it, and CEO Parag Agrawal is said to have told employees that the evaluation process is still ongoing, The Verge reports. and others. The council could reject the offer or put in place defense mechanisms that could force Musk to the negotiating table. Musk could also make what’s called a mass stock purchase offer directly to shareholders. And another potential buyer could come out of nowhere. In any case, there is going to be more chaos around the company in the coming days.
>> Related: Casey Newton’s thought at the end of the day: “I have no idea who is going to own Twitter when all is said and done. But I do worry that the events of the next few weeks and months are going to be bad for the company, and the product…”
>> Alex Heath’s prediction: “We’re about to see a messy takeover battle between Twitter, Musk, and potentially others…”
Has Musk really thought about this?
BY BRIAN FUNG:
Onstage at the TED Conference on Thursday, Musk framed his offer to buy Twitter in the same “civilizing” terms that describe Tesla’s mission: “This is not a way to make money … to have a public platform that is trustworthy and broadly inclusive is extremely important for the future of civilization.
Here are two notes after listening to his statements:
>> Musk said he wants Twitter to open up its algorithm so users can see when (and by implication, why) the platform takes action on their content. But it’s not clear to what extent this could be achieved, given that it would still be up to the company to actually implement whatever changes people suggest, assuming (and that’s a big “if”) that it’s possible for the average person to really figure out how the system works. algorithm…
>> It’s surprising how little Musk seems to have given the hard cases about speech. His suggestions basically consist of 1) not promoting controversial tweets and 2) using more temporary bans, which are grade adjustments, not “civilizational” change. There are legions of academics and advocates and lawyers who are experts in the intricacies of speech and the restraint of speech, and Musk is looping the loop as if he’s engaging in these hypotheses for the first time and falls for the evasion: “I’m not saying that we have all the answers.” Instead, Musk would prefer all hard cases to be solved by applying the easy rubric of “does anyone hate this speech? Then he must be free.” Which is a huge simplification of the realities of discourse…
“Conservatives embrace Elon Musk as their savior on Twitter”
That’s the headline of this Politico story, perfectly mirroring the right-wing media coverage at the moment. When I took a look at Fox’s “The Five,” the banner took Musk’s point of view as fact, saying “MUSK TRYING TO SAVE FREE SPEECH WITH TWITTER OFFER.” Tucker Carlson later commented on air, “Is it sad that we’re all desperate for Elon Musk to save us? Yes, he is. But who else is going to save us? No one, at this point.” For a snapshot of right-wing thinking on this issue, check out this column by Elle Reynolds in The Federalist…
— For The Information subscribers, Jessica Toonkel and Martin Peers detail the people who decide the fate of Twitter: It’s “likely to be determined by a small circle of people,” including Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Silver’s boss. Lake, Egon Durban… (The Information)
— Kara Swisher says “it’s hard to know what someone like Musk is going to do at any moment.” (NYT)
Is the price Musk wants to pay for Twitter a joke?– Christine Emba wrote: “What does it mean that a billionaire can almost single-handedly walk in and eat these kinds of communication platforms? The easy answer is no good…” (WaPo)
— Fred Wilson, an early investor in Twitter: “Twitter is too important for one person to own and control. The opposite should be the case. Twitter should be decentralized as a protocol that powers an ecosystem of Twitter products and services.” communication…” (Twitter)
— Of note: “Asset manager Vanguard Group recently increased its stake” in Twitter and now owns 10.3%, meaning Musk is no longer the largest shareholder… (WSJ)
One more note…
Conservative writer David French is of the opinion that Musk is trying to buy a broken website. Twitter is relatively small, “disproportionately influential with the political elite, and distorts both left and right in profoundly destructive ways,” French writes in his latest newsletter for The Atlantic. The platform, to be sure, “is far above its traffic in terms of raw cultural impact,” but according to French, that cultural influence “is detrimental to both sides of the partisan divide in America.”
Naturally, his point is best summed up in a tweet: “A lot of people have a hate/need relationship with Twitter. They hate the social dynamic, but feel like they still need to reach their peers and followers. If it gets more toxic, the hate will nullify the need…”