Billionaire and self-described free speech champion Elon Musk will acquire Twitter, Inc. according to an April 25 press release. The move will make Twitter private and set off a firestorm of speculation—ranging from whether or not Musk will allow Donald J. Trump to return, to the possibility of an edit button.
Twitter, Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Musk, for $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion.
Musk is the world’s richest person, according to Forbes and most other lists. Bloomberg estimates he has $3 billion in cash, give or take. Musk described $13 billion in bank financing secured by Twitter and the $12.5 billion backed by a pledge of Tesla stake, but it’s not clear how he’s going to come up with the remaining $21 billion to complete the transaction.
The billionaire is citing the move as a victory for free speech, while others disagree on the ethics of the deal and its implications for the future of social media.
“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,” said Musk. “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.”
With 85.2 million followers and counting, Musk ranks number 8 in the list of the Top 10 Most Followed Twitter Accounts, trailing people like Justin Bieber and former president Barack Obama. He’s gained millions of followers just in the past week or so. But his use of the micro-blogging social media app has been scrutinized and analyzed. The Guardian criticized Musk’s use of Twitter, calling the relationship “chaotic and crass.”
Per the agreement, Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 in cash for each share of Twitter common stock that they own upon closing of the proposed transaction. The purchase price represents a 38% premium to Twitter’s latest closing stock price.
“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” Bret Taylor, Twitter’s Independent Board Chair said. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s CEO said, “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.”
Elon Musk and Cannabis
Does the 420 in the share value sound familiar? On August 7, 2018, Musk tweeted he was mulling over taking Tesla private, quoting a price of $420 per share for the buyout.
He told the New York Times that he’s aware of how popular weed is, but he’s not sure how it could help productivity, to be candid. “It seemed like better karma at $420 than at $419,” Musk said. “But I was not on weed, to be clear.” That all changed a month later on a podcast appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience.
On September 6, 2018, Musk smoked a blunt on episode #1169 of The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan himself became embroiled in the topic of free speech due to his Spotify fiasco, over concerns the podcaster was sharing information that wasn’t medically sound.
Due to the fallout of Musk’s many investments because of the blunt stunt, Jimi Devine asked for High Times, “Did Elon Musk smoke the most expensive blunt of all time?” Even Musk’s NASA-associated security clearances came into question.
With the power of Twitter at his fingertips, a lot could change in the world of social media, and inevitably, politics and free speech will intersect.
The transaction, which was approved by the Twitter Board of Directors, is expected to close in 2022, pending the approval of Twitter stockholders.