Elon Musk takes 9.2% of the capital of Twitter and becomes the main shareholder

Musk’s surprise move sparked instant speculation among current and former employees that Twitter, which has been mired in management turmoil following a battle with activist shareholders and the sudden departure of Dorsey last year. latest, was about to get even more chaotic, according to people familiar with the inside. conversations who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive topics. Some worried that freewheeling Musk, who has promoted coronavirus misinformation and decried “censorship,” was pushing Twitter in a libertarian direction, away from blocking or restricting accounts that cause social harm.

The SEC filing noting Musk’s involvement is dated March 14 — although Musk’s signature on the document is dated Monday. It means Musk would have acquired his stake more than a week before polling Twitter users on whether the app respects free speech, and remarking that the consequences of the poll will be “significant”.

While it’s unclear what control Musk would wield over the company, his very presence seemed likely to set Twitter up for further political controversy as the 2022 midterms approach. Supporters of former President Donald Trump , who have attacked Twitter for permanently banning him and other allies, praised Musk on Monday, with some saying he should force the company to reinstate Trump’s account.

Musk tweeted Monday, “Oh hi lol,” greeting users of the social media app where he makes many of his most erratic statements, including news about Tesla, of which he is CEO.

Dan Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities, said Musk’s passive involvement may just be the start. Rather than launching a competing social media platform, as some predicted after the poll, “Looks like Elon has his eyes on Twitter.”

Ives predicted that Musk, the richest man in the world, will eventually pursue active participation and play a more aggressive role.

“He’s sort of friendly right now,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at former Tesla investor Loup Ventures. “He’s the most famous person in the world and he has quite a loyal following, and there are unique things that only he can do as a shareholder-activist.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post. The company generally does not respond to media inquiries after disbanding its PR team in 2020. Twitter declined to answer questions about Musk.

In late March, Musk questioned whether Twitter “strictly adheres” to free speech principles in a survey of its more than 80 million followers.

“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto town square, failure to uphold free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” he tweeted.

He then asked, “Is a new platform needed?

Musk has sold billions of Tesla shares in 2021, making much of his wealth – previously tied to Tesla shares – liquid for the first time. Musk sold the shares after taking to Twitter to quiz his users on whether to sell 10% of his shares, although a trade plan that would have seen him sell a large chunk of the shares was enacted weeks earlier, putting the purpose of the poll in question.

Earlier that year, Musk apparently took aim at Twitter’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump, writing, “A lot of people are going to be very unhappy with West Coast’s high tech as a referee. de facto freedom of expression.”

Trump was kicked off the platform following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, citing the risk of further violence.

Musk and former Twitter CEO Dorsey are known as rocky but visionary Silicon Valley founders, and the pair appear to be on good terms. They greeted each other on Twitter and share a common love for cryptocurrency.

Dorsey’s role in managing payment platform Square, while simultaneously managing Twitter, led activist shareholders to criticize that he was an absentee manager and that Twitter was both unruly and slow to innovate. Although shareholders didn’t win in their 2020 campaign to oust Dorsey, his surprise announcement of his resignation last December was seen as a victory for shareholders wanting to make Twitter a less chaotic place.

Musk recently accused the SEC of trying to ‘chill his exercise of First Amendment rights’ while asking a judge to throw out a 2018 settlement agreement governing his tweets, alleging he felt boxed in by multiple sources of pressure at the time and that he had concluded it. to protect Tesla shareholders.

The settlement stems from a tweet in which Musk said he had “secured funding” to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Later, Musk clarified that the tweet was a joke. According to the SEC complaint.

The joke nevertheless sent Tesla’s stock skyrocketing, and Musk and Tesla were each fined $20 million. Musk also had to resign as chairman of Tesla’s board of directors and agreed to have his potentially market-influencing communications checked by a licensed securities attorney.

“Tesla was a less mature company and the SEC action risked jeopardizing the company’s funding,” Musk said in a recent Legal Deposit. “Defending the SEC action through protracted litigation was not in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. As CEO and President of Tesla at the time, I felt that the company and its shareholders would be exposed to undue risk if I did not settle the matter quickly.

At the time, Musk said the $20 million weed prank was “worth it.” At the time, he only had 22 million followers.

The Tesla boss is very active on Twitter, where he has tweeted more than 17,300 times. He has an average of 125,181 likes per tweet, according to Social follow.

Lance B. Holton