He was one of Twitter’s biggest trolls, then he became its most powerful provocateur. Now, Elon Musk is set to own the company outright.
On Monday, the social media company announced that it had reached an agreement with the world’s richest man to buy the firm and take it private. True to Musk’s form, the sale price—$54.20 per share—included a subtle wink at the marijuana reference “420.”
The deal represents a 38 percent premium over Twitter’s closing stock price as of April Fool’s Day, the final trading day before Musk unveiled his 9.2 percent stake in the business, a company press release said.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in the statement. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”
The deal marked the likely conclusion of a chaotic month for the company during which its leaders had sought to repel a takeover attempt by Musk.
The tumult can be traced to the start of the year, when Musk began acquiring Twitter stock, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This month, he revealed his 9.2 percent stake, which made him Twitter’s largest individual shareholder. The internet quickly went wild, while Musk soon faced blowback for failing to punctually notify investors after he had amassed a 5 percent interest, as regulations require.
Immediately after the disclosure, Twitter sought to make peace with Musk, despite his erratic tendencies and his frequent criticisms of the platform for its lack of “free speech.” The company invited him to join its board, and Musk accepted. Then, the day he was scheduled to join, he backed out.
Meanwhile, the billionaire spent that weekend lobbing bombs at Twitter, questioning whether the company was “dying,” and tweeting, then deleting, a suggestion about turning its headquarters into a homeless shelter. Soon after, Musk made his offer to buy out the company entirely.
From there, the relationship grew more hostile. Twitter adopted a so-called “poison pill,” which would have made it exceedingly difficult for Musk to accumulate a controlling stake without the board’s participation. Musk then tweeted out the song lyrics “love me tender,” suggesting that he would pursue a takeover directly with the company’s shareholders through a move known as a tender offer.
Things changed late last week when Musk disclosed that he had the financing to go through with his deal. The board unanimously accepted his offer on Monday, even though Twitter’s stock had hovered above $70 per share just last summer.
The deal is expected to close this year, and then the company’s problems will be Musk’s to deal with alone.
Among the most politically charged: What to do about former President Donald Trump, whose account was permanently suspended following the Jan. 6 insurrection for his alleged role in inciting violence.
Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News on Monday that he will not rejoin the platform either way, opting to engage with the public via his own rival firm instead.
Additional reporting by Zachary Petrizzo.