Less than a month after buying a 9.2% stake in Twitter, the richest man in the world now owns it. After weeks of ‘will he, won’t he’ back and forth, micro-blogging platform Twitter has finally decided to sell itself to Elon Musk, the man who founded electric car maker Tesla and space-tech firm SpaceX.
The deal is valued at approximately $44 billion, with Musk paying $54.20 per share in a cash transaction to buy Twitter. Musk had said last week that he acquired financing for the deal, and the transaction was said to be nearing completion earlier today. “The purchase price represents a 38% premium to Twitter’s closing stock price on April 1, 2022, which was the last trading day before Mr. Musk disclosed his approximately 9% stake in Twitter,” the company said in a press release.
“Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important,” said Parag Agrawal, who took over as chief executive of Twitter from co-founder Jack Dorsey in November last year.
“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders,” said Bret Taylor, Twitter’s Independent Board Chair.
Musk, on the other hand, reiterated a few promises that he has made in the weeks leading up to this purchase.
“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," he said in a statement. “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,” he added.
To be sure, not everyone has been looking forward to Musk’s takeover of Twitter. On April 25, Joan Donovan, who is the research director at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media Politics and Public Policy, said that Musk buying Twitter and the mandate for free speech may actually reduce content moderation on the platform, and increase in hate speech and harassment.
On his part, Musk tweeted earlier today that he hopes that even his “worst critics” remain on Twitter after he takes over “because that is what free speech means”.