Elon Musk Has Bought Twitter, Will Now Bring His Version of Free Speech to the Masses

Negotiations between the polarizing 50-year-old Tesla and SpaceX CEO and Twitter’s 11-person board of directors went well into Monday morning, the NYT reported.

Note: This is a breaking news story and will be updated throughout Monday. 

Elon Musk’s unsolicited bid to purchase Twitter for $44 billion and “unlock” its “extraordinary potential” ended in a closed deal on Monday, as this phase of the mogul’s fast-moving and closely-watched gambit to take the popular but financially struggling platform private and redefine its products and policies—particularly around what he has said are issues around free expression—ends with a win for the world’s richest man. 

“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 about the takeover on Monday.

Negotiations between the polarizing 50-year-old Tesla and SpaceX CEO and Twitter’s 11-person board of directors went well into Monday morning, multiple sources told the New York Times. Ultimately, Musk’s ability to back up his ability to buy the platform for $54.20 per share—a 38 percent premium on the stock price when the rapid takeover saga started just weeks ago—won over the board. This is now one of the largest activist takeovers of a publicly-traded company, mergers watcher Dealogic has said. 

Musk’s recent public financial entanglements with Twitter began on April 5 with an announcement he’d be joining the platform’s board after it was revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that he’d quietly amassed a 9.2 percent stake in the company, effectively making him the company’s largest shareholder.  But in a surprise about-face after just five days—which Musk, in possible securities violations, had spent furiously tweeting about the company and polling his 81 million followers about the company’s future—it was announced in a tweet from company CEO Parag Agrawal that Musk will not, in fact, be joining the Twitter board. No reason was given for Musk’s decision. 

On April 14, Musk announced his intentions to buy Twitter at $54.20 per share (that 420 was one of his winking, very clever weed references). For many, this felt like a bluff. But  Musk was dead serious, reportedly gathering $46.5 billion in financing for his offer, as sources have reportedly said. Just before noon PT on Monday, it was officially announced that what has been a high-profile, rapidly-paced deal with sky-high stakes had come to a close.

Musk’s April 14 bid was widely derided as undervaluing the company, whose stock peaked at over $70 last year but was hovering around $48 two weeks ago. On Monday morning, TWTR was up 4 percent, hovering just shy of $51. According to the Times’ sources, Musk’s bid started to look serious to Twitter’s board when he showed how he’d secured financing for the purchase through financial firm Morgan Stanley and other lenders; this breaks down to $13 billion in debt financing, $12.5 billion in loans against Musk’s Tesla stock (which skyrocketed during the pandemic and has held high) and $21 billion in cash from the mogul. 

Musk has frequently griped about what he seems to believe are free speech issues on the platform, which he initially referred to in a March 26 tweet as the “de-facto town square.” He has run into trouble with the SEC over a very clever 420 gag he tweeted in 2018 about taking Tesla private and that same year was sued, though unsuccessfully, after a vile tweet calling a British explorer involved in the rescue of 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave in June 2018 of being a “pedo guy,” or a pedophile, amid an escalating spat on the platform. 

Over the years, Musk has both tried to play it smoothly with his preferred social media platform and at times become hostile and threatening to take it over. Amid his recent maneuvers, the mogul has said that he hopes to make Twitter a “platform for free speech around the globe.” Free speech, of course, protects the legal right to express one’s opinions freely and does not shield one from repercussions of and reactions to one’s words and actions—or public opinion and consensus on one’s character. 

Reaction on Monday to the news that Twitter is close to going through with the sale was swift. It was also just as polarized as the majority of the relentless news surrounding Musk, who amid the brouhaha this morning tweeted, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”

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