The last couple of days have not been boring for billionaire CEO Elon Musk. The Tesla boss kicked off the first full week of October by igniting a Twitter war with President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukraine government over his four-step peace plan to resolve Russia’s invasion. Then, at high noon on Oct. 4, the world learned that Musk would move ahead with his $44 billion takeover of the struggling social media network. The Twitterverse was in shock over both developments, with many wondering what Musk will do to end the raucous week.
Elon Musk to Buy Twitter
Twitter shares were halted after soaring nearly 13% on pending news that Musk would be proceeding with his $54.20-a-share acquisition of Twitter. Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal first broke the news, citing sources close to the situation who did not wish to be identified. The outlets reported on a letter Musk’s legal team wrote to Twitter, which was also submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“We write to notify you that the Musk Parties intend to proceed to closing of the transaction contemplated by the April 25, 2022 Merger Agreement,” the SEC filing stated. It continued:
“The Musk Parties provide this notice without admission of liability and without waiver of or prejudice to any of their rights, including their right to assert the defenses and counterclaims pending in the Action, including in the event the Action is not stayed, Twitter fails or refuses to comply with its obligations under the April 25, 2022 Merger Agreement or if the transaction contemplated thereby otherwise fails to close.”
This comes as both sides were set to appear before a Delaware judge for a five-day trial on Oct. 17. Musk’s assertion was that the social media outlet misrepresented the number of fake accounts and spam bots flooding the website, a figure Twitter pegged at 5%. But experts purported that it would have been an uphill legal battle for the Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO because nothing had changed from when he submitted his proposal in April to when he walked away from the agreement. This position was supported when analyses from two data scientists suggested the prevalence of bots was between 5% and 11%, falling short of the claims made by Musk.
Although no official statements have been made regarding the reversal, Musk tweeted a message that hints at his future plans. Late Tuesday evening, he wrote, “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.” In August, the billionaire entrepreneur set the internet ablaze by posting that “X.com” – a presently blank website he owns – could be his new social media venture. He followed up saying the acquisition of Twitter could accelerate his plans for X by three to five years.
Even before Musk’s legal troubles with Twitter, it was not exactly clear what he had in mind for the network. Aside from declaring himself to be a “free speech absolutist” and that the website was the “de facto public town square” where “failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk’s ideas were not set in stone – except for the addition of an edit button. The public was given insight into what Musk and his friends and colleagues thought in a series of text messages released in the Delaware court.
In a March 24 tweet, Musk asked if the “Twitter algorithm should be open source.” Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and former CEO, reached out to Musk through text and asserted that “a new platform is needed.” He added that the website transforming into a corporation was its “original sin.”
Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of German digital publishing house Axel Springer, contacted Musk, suggesting that his organization manage the website. He championed “radically reducing Terms of Services” and only prohibiting sending spam or scamming users, posting illegal pornography, and promoting violence. Döpfner also recommended pushing a “decentralized social network protocol,” effectively putting together a marketplace for algorithms. Or, as Döpfner put it: “[I]f you’re a snowflake and don’t want content that offends you pick another algorithm.”
A Free Speech Zone in 2023?
In the end, a Twitter ecosystem envisioned by Elon Musk might be some combination of maximum free speech without fear of censorship, innovative features, and a marketplace of ideas. This was the purpose behind the foundation of Twitter, yet these principles were quickly tossed in the trash receptacle upon filing an initial public offering (IPO) to acquiesce to the demands of woke Corporate America. Since Musk has not been one to care about appeasing leftists and their causes, 2023 could be the year to enact the change he wants to see. It is a bold move, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off.
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