Social media giant Twitter announced Monday afternoon its board agreed to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk for $54.20 per share in a cash transaction valued at approximately $44 billion.
Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company.
The announcement follows news that broke over the weekend that Musk was huddling with the Twitter board to hammer out details on an offer that became public earlier this month.
“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 a statement accompanying Twitter’s announcement of the deal. “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.”
And one of the biggest unanswered questions following news of the sale is whether Musk will “unlock” the Twitter account of former President Donald Trump who was banned permanently by the platform in early 2021.
How it happened: Last week, news broke that Musk had assembled a group of financing partners to make the deal happen after announcing his $43 billion offer on April 14. In early April, Musk revealed he had accumulated a 9% position on Twitter stock, making him the company’s biggest individual shareholder.
Per the New York Times, Twitter’s board was negotiating with Musk into Monday over his unsolicited bid to buy the company, after he began lining up $46.5 billion in financing for the offer last week, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss confidential information.
The Times reports the two sides were talking about details including a timeline to close any potential deal and any fees that would be paid if an agreement were signed and then fell apart, they said.
What will a Musk-owned Twitter look like? Besides his stated credo as a “free speech absolutist,” Musk hasn’t offered many details on exactly what changes he would oversee as the new owner of Twitter.
But, there are a few clues.
According to Reuters, the 50-year-old entrepreneur, who is also CEO of rocket developer SpaceX, has said he wants to combat trolls on Twitter and proposed changes to the Twitter Blue premium subscription service, including slashing its price and banning advertising.
The billionaire, a vocal advocate for cryptocurrencies, has also suggested adding Dogecoin as a payment option on Twitter, Reuters reports.
Musk has said Twitter’s current leadership team is incapable of getting the company’s stock to his offer price on its own, but he has stopped short of saying it needs to be replaced.
“The company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form,” Musk said in his offer letter last week.
Will Musk unlock Trump’s account? One of the most asked questions now that Musk is poised to take control of Twitter is whether we will reinstate the account of Trump, who was banned permanently from the platform on Jan. 8, 2021, just days after the U.S. Capitol riots. Trump has since gone on to launch his own social media platform, Truth Social.
Per a report from The Guardian, Musk said this month that he was “very cautious with permanent bans” on Twitter and would prefer a timeout system. But he has not directly addressed the issue of Trump’s account, which had almost 89 million followers.
Speaking at a TED conference, the Guardian reported, Musk said: “I think it’s very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech. Twitter has become kind of the de facto town square, so it’s just really important that people have the … reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.”
For his part, Trump told Fox News on Monday that he was a fan of Musk’s but had no interest in returning to Twitter.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth,” Trump told Fox News. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH.”
Trump told Fox News he will begin “TRUTHing” over the next week.
Earlier on Monday, a Twitter account managed by the Republican U.S. House members sent out a sly tweet aimed at Musk hinting about allowing Trump back on the platform:
Hey, @elonmusk it's a great week to free @realDonaldTrump.— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) April 25, 2022
Here’s how Twitter is reacting: Before the deal was announced Monday as Musk and the Twitter board cloistered to hash out the deal, #RIPTwitter was trending heavily on the platform, which boasts over 320 million users worldwide.
Sentiments ranged from conspiracy theories, to promises to never use the platform again if Musk gets the company, to celebrations of an end to perceived “censorship” policies.
On Monday morning, Musk himself invited haters to stay on the platform even if he does assume control:
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
And, The Street featured a few of the tweets from the #RIPTwitter hashtag flow on Monday:
A SpaceX investor tweeted that Musk would bring Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey back as chief executive. Dorsey, who heads payments firm Block SQ, changed his title last week from “Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairperson” to “Block Head and Chairperson.”
Prediction: Elon will buy @twitter and reinstate @jack as CEO.— Matt Joyce (@matty_mogul) April 25, 2022
Former Twitter employee Sriram Krishnan, who previously led core consumer product teams at Twitter, agreed that the social media platform “needed a shake up and probably couldn’t be in better hands.”
If this is true, truly thrilled for Twitter and @elonmusk.— Sriram Krishnan - sriramk.eth (@sriramk) April 25, 2022
It’s one of the most important services in the world, needed a shake up and probably couldn’t be in better hands.
Another social media user chimed in to add that liberals in America were having a meltdown over this potential acquisition deal.
RIP Twitter is trending. If you think they are melting down now, just imagine what it is going to be like when the multitude of conservative accounts that got banned for no good reason start being reinstated.— JessBlane1122 (@blane1122) April 25, 2022
Another user raised the contentious issue of free speech. Musk, who claims to be a free speech absolutist, thinks Twitter uses too much censorship and limits content that he deems acceptable.
RIP Twitter is trending because some people believe bringing back free speech is tantamount to the death of twitter.— Chris Salem (@ChrisNSalem) April 25, 2022
Why are people so weird?
Another social media post equated this tweet storm to nothing more than users crying wolf just like they did when they promised to leave the U.S. if Donald Trump became the president.
I see people tweeting RIP Twitter 😂. Are the same people who said that are leaving the country if Trump become President but they never did. 😂😂— Itachi-Macho (@AvocarlosCarlos) April 25, 2022