Elon Musk finally acquires Twitter for $44 bn
28 October 2022
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, finally took control of Twitter, in a $44 billion deal, ending the uncertainty over his willingness to take over the social networking giant.
Musk also sacked its chief executive Parag Agrawal, as well as the chief financial officer and its head of legal policy, trust and safety, US media reported late on Thursday.
"The bird is freed," Musk tweeted after he completed his $44 billion acquisition on Thursday, referencing Twitter's bird logo in an apparent nod to his desire to see the company have fewer limits on content that can be posted.
The announcement was made just hours ahead of the deadline imposed by the court for Musk to seal his on-again, off-again deal.
Agrawal had taken the Tesla chief to court accusing him of trying to wriggle out of the terms of the takeover deal.
Musk tried to step back after Twitter accepted his unsolicited offer in April. The Tesla chief said in July he was canceling the contract because he was misled by Twitter over the number of fake "bot" accounts - allegations the company rejected.
On 4 October, just as Twitter's lawyers were all ser for Musk’s trial that was to start later in the month, he made a U-turn and offered to complete the deal as promised. The Delaware judge gave him a 28 October deadline to close the transaction and avoid the trial.
Musk tweeted on Thursday that he was buying Twitter "because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner."
Musk’s Twitter deal was reportedly finalised on 27 October. He initially wanted to limit his own investment in the $44 billion deal to around $15 billion, while his Tesla stake would support loans to the tune of $12.5 billion. However, he ultimately gave up on the borrowing plan and instead sold roughly $15.5 billion worth of shares in Tesla in two waves, in April and in August. In the end, the 51-year-old would personally pay the transaction a little over $27 billion in cash.
As part of the agreement, Larry Ellison, the co-founder of the software business Oracle, wrote a $1 billion cheque in addition to the $5.2 billion from investment organisations and other sizable funds.
Musk signaled the deal was on track this week by changing his Twitter profile to "Chief Twit" and posting a video of himself walking into the company's California headquarters carrying a sink.
Musk also said during a recent Tesla earnings call that he was "excited" about the Twitter deal even though he and investors are "overpaying."
Musk, however, has not offered details on how he will achieve all this and who will run the company. But he has announced plans to cut jobs, which has left Twitter's approximately 7,500 employees worried about their jobs. He also said he did not buy Twitter to make more money but "to try to help humanity, whom I love."
Musk has indicated that Twitter can be the foundation for creating a "super app" that would offers everything from money transfers to shopping and ride hailing.
"The long-term potential for Twitter in my view is an order of magnitude greater than its current value," Musk said on Tesla's call with analysts on 19 October.
The idea of Musk running Twitter has alarmed activists who fear a surge in harassment and misinformation, with Musk himself known for trolling other Twitter users.
The Tesla chief said he wanted to "defeat" spam bots on Twitter, make the algorithms that determine how content is presented to its users publicly available, and prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber for hate and division, even as he limits censorship.
But Musk said Twitter "cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences."
This while vowing to keep content moderation to a bare minimum.
Musk’s takeover of Twitter is expected to clear the way for former US president Donald Trump’s return to the platform.
The then-president was blocked due to concerns he would ignite more violence like the deadly attack on the Capitol in Washington to overturn his election loss.