Some billionaires buy newspapers, magazines and sports teams and jet liners. Elon Musk is trying to buy a social network that he himself admits might cause much of the world to hate him.
Musk said at a TED conference that everybody will still blame him for everything. He said that if he acquired Twitter and something went wrong, it will be 100 percent his fault, and he also felt that there would be quite a few errors.
Twitter itself is facing a lot of scrutiny for content issues, and is also fighting hard to regain and retain user growth on the platform – so the question arises as to why the world’s richest man would want to buy it?
In recent days, Musk has repeatedly said that he wished to acquire Twitter to enhance freedom of speech, and to unlock what he called Twitter’s extraordinary potential. While some have suggested that the move was more to enhance his own image, regardless of the outcome of the proposed deal. He made a stunning offer last Thursday to purchase all the Twitter shares he did not own, for USD43 billion.
Twitter employees are now used to dealing with big changes, and many people are believed to be keeping their heads down in the hope that the storm will blow over. However, the constant change in tone by Musk could make things difficult for them.
CEO of Twitter, Parag Agarwal, seemed to allude to that difficulty, with a memo in which he warned that there will be distractions ahead. He called an all-hands meeting to discuss what Musk’s bid could mean for them, and suggested that they continue working as usual during the disruptions.
Twitter’s board of directors stated that they are weighing their options. One of those options is a defensive tactic known as the poison pill. Using this option, other stakeholders would be given the right to buy company shares at a cheaper rate, thereby diluting Musk’s ownership stake in the company and forcing him to negotiate.
Observers have serious doubts as to whether Musk would indeed move ahead with the deal. Musk himself was quoted as saying that he was not sure if he would actually buy Twitter.
Musk was also quoted as saying that he was purchasing Twitter with a view to protecting human civilization. He added that it was not a move to make money, but about having a public platform that is inclusive and in the better interests of the future of civilization.
If Musk does go ahead with the deal, some of his plans include making the Twitter algorithm open source, and making the platform more transparent to users. He also said that he would want to have more lenient content moderation policies.
Attention seeking by Musk
Followers of the SpaceX and Tesla CEO have suggested that his takeover bid for Twitter was just a way of honing his reputation, and preserving his voice on the popular platform.
Musk has over 80 million followers on Twitter, and has often used it to build his brand while communicating with them. Many say that his USD43 billion offer to Twitter is keeping in line with a history of wealthy individuals buying media properties as a way to prop up their personal image.
What Musk does next
Musk reportedly stated in his letter to Twitter that if the board rejects his bid, he would need to reconsider his position as a shareholder – a move that may cause Twitter’s shares to drop drastically. He also followed this u p by saying that he could also make things difficult for the board if they rejected his bid. He said that by rejecting the bid, the liability that they would assume would be Titanic in nature.
Musk was likely to change everything about Twitter, should the deal go through, including its policies to its workplace culture. A former employee was quoted as saying that Musk was incredibly unpredictable and like a loose cannon.
Twitter’s culture has long been known for being inclusive and friendly, she said. She added that with Musk running the show, a lot of that would be put into question.