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Does Elon Musk want a say in Twitter?

elon-musk-twitter-free-speech-futureparty
Elon Musk // Illustration by Kate Walker

Does Elon Musk want a say in Twitter?

 

Future. Elon Musk bought an almost 10% stake in Twitter, immediately putting him in a position to put pressure on the company however he sees fit. As some are speculating, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO could be setting the table for a full takeover (no cult of Dorsey to worry about anymore), which could lead to a major relaxation in moderation standards on the platform.

Ask the birds
Elon Musk is paying his way to Big Bird status.

  • As we’re sure you’ve heard: Musk bought 9.2% of Twitter for a reported $2.89 billion, making him the company’s largest shareholder.
  • The news sent Twitter’s stock surging 27% yesterday in pre-market trading.
  • Musk’s shares are considered a “passive stake,” but Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said that this purchase “could lead to some sort of buyout” in the future.

Interestingly, the news comes on the heels of Musk tweeting a poll to his followers on March 25 asking if Twitter “rigorously adheres” to the principle of free speech, following up that the results of the poll would be “important.” Over 70% voted “no.”

With Musk considering himself a “free speech absolutist,” it would be easy to conclude that the results of this poll played some part in Musk’s big buy. But stock-purchase filing reveals that Musk ponied up for the stake on March 14.

Nest takeover
Would Musk really want to buy out Twitter? Does the richest man on Earth really want the headache of owning a social platform? Maybe. He did float the question the other day about whether a new platform was needed (on the heels of the results from that poll). Building a platform from scratch is hard (just ask Trump), so Musk may see a makeover of Twitter as an easier goal… and let’s be honest, Musk loves to tweet.

All of these thoughts have probably been swirling in Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal’s head for the past month. Musk hasn’t publicly been his biggest fan, and Agrawal has enough on his mind with his ambition to add 100 million new users by the end of next year.

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