on Monday accepted Ilona Mask’s bid to buy the company, which would give the world’s richest man control of the social media network, where he is also one of the most influential users.
The $ 44 billion deal marks the end of a dramatic courtship and change on Twitter, where many executives and board members initially opposed Mr Musk’s approach to the takeover. The agreement has polarized Twitter staff, users and regulators regarding the energy technology giants they use to determine the parameters of acceptable online discourse and how these companies comply with their rules.
Both sides worked all night to conclude a deal under which Mr Musk plans to make Twitter private in a deal valuing the company at $ 54.20 per share.
The takeover, if it happens, will be one of the biggest gains in the history of technology and is likely to have global implications for years to come, including possibly changing the way billions of people use social media. Mr. Musk will bring his commitment to a simpler approach to speaking in a company that strives to reconcile free conversation with content that is appealing to advertisers.
On Monday, the day after The Wall Street Journal first reported that the deal was close, Mr Musk tweeted to show that he wants the platform to become a place for widespread discourse and disagreement.
“I hope that even my worst critics will remain on Twitter, because that means freedom of speech,” he wrote.
Mr Musk said after the deal was announced that he wanted to make Twitter a better user, in part by adding new features and fighting spam. A billionaire who is also the CEO of Tesla Inc.
and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has a reputation for complex conventions in a variety of fields.
Among the issues Mr. Musk will face is whether to allow Donald Trump to return to Twitter after the former president’s personal account was “permanently suspended” by the company last year as a result of the January 6 violence in the US Capitol. On Monday, Mr Trump told Fox News he had no plans to return to Twitter and would instead use his home social network Truth Social as a means of reaching subscribers.
At a comprehensive meeting of employees on Monday afternoon, Twitter CEO Parag Agraval said the layoffs were not planned and that the company’s priorities were not changing until the deal closed, according to the person who heard the remarks. Mr Agrawal said that after Mr Musk took office, ‘we don’t know in which direction the campaign could go,’ “the man said.
Mr Agraval said Mr Musk had agreed to convert employee stock stakes into cash after the deal closed and pay them off according to the existing application schedule, the man said.
Brett Taylor, Twitter’s independent chairman, said the deal reflects a better outcome for shareholders.
The social networking company from San Francisco was expected to decline an offer Mr. Musk made on April 14 without saying how he would pay for it.
A day after the unsolicited offer appeared, Twitter accepted a so-called poison pill designed to complicate Mr. Mask’s more than 15% stake in the company.
Twitter changed its position after Mr Musk detailed elements of his takeover financing plan. On April 21, he said he had $ 46.5 billion raised. Shares of Twitter rose sharply, and company executives opened the door to negotiations.
Shares rose 5.7% to $ 51.70 on Monday. In an era of huge profits technology companies Twitter was anemic in the stock market. His shares jumped on the first day of trading in 2013 and closed at $ 44.90, within one dollar of where they were more than eight years later when Mr Musk made his approach.
But since Mr Musk unveiled about 9% of the company’s stock in early April, Twitter’s stock has risen 32%. This puts the stock ahead for the year, outpacing other technology companies and the wider market.
The twist on Twitter came after Mr Musk met privately with several shareholders on Friday to praise his offer, and reiterating that the board had decided “yes or no”, people familiar with the discussion said.
Mr. Musk, with more than 82 million Twitter followers, has long used the platform to express his views on everything from space travel to cryptocurrencies. In January, it began buying shares of Twitter, becoming by April the largest individual investor with a stake of more than 9%.
He has previously used Twitter to escalate a conflict with the Securities and Exchange Commission after the agency launched an investigation into some of its recent stock sales, and he often outrages his critics on social media.
Private Twitter would allow Mr. Mask to make changes without the control of state-owned companies, which are usually controlled by their shareholders. He also said he wanted to retain as many shareholders as possible.
Twitter earlier this month invited Mr Mask to join his board of directors, which would not have allowed him to own more than 14.9% of the company. Mr. Musk first agreed and then declined the offer.
Twitter has already embarked on a turnaround plan after a brawl with Elliott Management Corp. activist. about two years ago. Just over a year ago, Twitter said it aims to double its revenue to $ 7.5 billion by the end of 2023 and reach at least 315 million so-called daily active users that can be monetized by then.
Mr. Mask’s proposed changes to the platform include softening its position on content moderation, creating a tweet editing feature, creating an open source Twitter algorithm – allowing people outside the company to view and suggest changes – and less reliance on advertising among other ideas.
Mr Musk, who called himself an “freedom of speech absolutist”, said in a recent interview at a TED conference that he saw Twitter as a “de facto town square”.
Twitter should be more careful when deciding to delete tweets or permanently ban user accounts, Mr Musk said, pointing to temporary suspensions as the best solution.
Mr Musk said he also wants the platform to be more transparent when it takes action that boosts or reduces the coverage of tweets. He said he was not sure how some of these ideas would be implemented.
Twitter has spent years advocating for healthier discourse on its platform and adding moderation to content, at least in part by claiming it’s good for business.
The company has also introduced new features that are popular with users, including Twitter Spaces, which allows people to have live audio conversations with each other on the platform.
Mr Musk said he wanted Twitter to rely less on advertising, which accounted for about 90% of its revenue in 2021, and more to switch its business model to subscriptions. The platform currently offers a subscription-based service called Twitter Blue, which gives customers premium features such as “cancel tweet” for $ 2.99 per month. He offered to remove all Twitter ads as part of the subscription.
Mr. Musk also voiced the idea of cutting staff, closing the company’s headquarters in San Francisco and not giving the board of directors a salary. The latter could save about $ 3 million a year, he said.
Other changes proposed to him include an attempt to stop spam and fraudulent bots and permission for longer tweets. The current limit is 280 characters.
On Thursday, Twitter is scheduled to announce earnings for the first quarter.
The company said Monday it would no longer speak to analysts that day.
—Dana Timiluka and Liz Hoffman contributed to this article.
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