After serious negotiations with Twitter‘s board, what seemed inevitable has finally come to fruition. Elon Musk is now the owner of the social media giant as both sides agreed to a massive $44 billion deal to cede control of the company to him. With the buyout, Twitter will transfer to being a privately owned company, joining The Washington Post and Time as just the latest in a string of media outlets to be snapped up by wealthy elites.
The multi-billionaire CEO had been a threat to purchase Twitter as of late after he became their largest shareholder and was offered a seat on the company’s board. However, he foreshadowed his eventual purchase when he refused that seat, allowing him to push for total ownership instead. What followed was a public back-and-forth that concluded with Musk delivering his “best and final offer” which would pay $54.20 per stock. If stockholders and regulators approve the deal, it’ll give all invested in the company a 38% premium on Twitter‘s stocks before he took over as the leading shareholder. The deal is expected to go through sometime later this year.
Musk, the owner of both SpaceX and Tesla, is considered the richest man in the world and is no stranger to utilizing Twitter for whatever suits his fancies at the time. He’s also a controversial figure in the public space both for some of his statements on the platform and has received backlash for his tax payments. This purchase is only certain to add more fuel to the fire given the uneasy sentiment around billionaires controlling prominent media pillars. Compared to the aforementioned Washington Post and Time though, Twitter holds a unique space in media and journalism as it helps the spread of information and misinformation from many outlets including politicians, creating a tough line to walk for Musk.
Musk has also been one of Twitter‘s ardent critics over the years, going after the company for a lack of free speech on the platform and, after becoming the top shareholder, started floating ideas to the public about what they’d like to see on the site. Following his deal, Musk released a statement vowing to improve the company as a platform for free speech, saying:
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. 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. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.
“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” Twitter‘s independent board chair Bret Taylor said regarding the purchase. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.” Parag Agrawal, Twitter‘s CEO, also praised the move, saying that he was “Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”
With Musk set to become the new head of Twitter, it marks a new era for one of social media’s long-standing institutions for better and for worse.