Conservatives are celebrating Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter, despite these warning signs
The world’s richest man could buy Twitter and expand free speech — or he could just be making more money
Conservative Twitter erupted with excitement Thursday over news that Elon Musk has made an offer to buy Twitter. But the celebration may be premature, given the contents of Musk’s latest SEC filing.
In a short letter to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor contained in the filing, Musk said if his “best and final offer” of $54.20 a share did not result in a sale, “I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.”
That in itself would be a disappointment to people who were thrilled by Musk’s acquisition of about 9% of the company last week. The world’s richest man — best known for his leadership of Tesla and SpaceX — has lately emerged as the biggest critic of Twitter’s content policies, which many conservatives believe amount to censorship of their views.
Some hoped Musk’s involvement as a shareholder — and board member, had he joined — could result in greater freedom of speech and even the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump and other accounts that have either been permanently banned or temporarily suspended.
BREAKING: Elon Musk offers to BUY all of @Twitter for more than $43 billion or $54.20…— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) April 14, 2022
Incredible. If it happens…ElonMusk will play a major role transforming the social media landscape and restoring our first amendment.
Although Musk has described himself as politically moderate, he is aligned with conservatives like Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in his calls for Twitter to have fewer restrictions, once saying, “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free-speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.”
Musk echoed that theme in the letter to Taylor contained in the April 13 SEC filing, saying, “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.”
He continued: “However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”
Despite the initial excitement last week, it quickly became clear to Musk and his supporters that owning roughly 9% of Twitter doesn’t amount to much in terms of power to make changes. Musk said as much in notes from a conversation (presumably with Taylor) that are contained in the most recent SEC filing. In the notes, Musk said he does not have confidence in Twitter’s management “nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market.”
He also said the company is “simply not a good investment without the changes that need to be made.”
That could be a red flag for Musk cheerleaders who might have hoped he was investing in Twitter as a sort of public service, similar to providing internet service to Ukraine. But it’s clear from the language made public today that Musk is acting as a businessman, not a public servant, and in fact, cynics might see all of the drama of the past week as a high-stakes game.
In outlining options in a hostile takeover, Bloomberg reported that Musk could just bail with a profit.
“There’s always a chance there’s no deal in the works and Musk decides to sell his shares and pocket his gains. If this happens he would probably use a bank to sell the shares in a block trade. It would be a quiet end to a wild news cycle, at least until Musk moves onto the next thing,” Liana Baker and Scott Deveau wrote.
Twitter is holding a company meeting to discuss the offer at 3 p.m. MDT today, so the story will likely continue to evolve today. For now, many analysts expect Twitter to reject the offer, which means that hopes of a Musk-run Twitter may be short-lived. But Musk’s backers are enjoying the fun while it lasts.
Hey libs how's your day? 🤣🤣😂#TwitterTakeover @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/oUFLA9APcx— .🇺🇸 SGT Valadez .🇺🇸 (@SGTValadez) April 14, 2022