Elon Musk Buys Twitter In $44Bn Deal — An Uncertain Future

Elon Musk champions “free” speech on Twitter after acquiring unanimous approval from the company’s board. Yet, many remain sceptical and concerned for the platform’s future.

Apr 26, 2022 | By Cleo Yong
elon musk buys twitter for $44 billion
Image: NBC News

Elon Musk, currently the world’s richest man with Forbes’ estimated net worth of nearly US$300 billion, has reached a US$44 billion deal to buy Twitter.

The 50-year-old is widely known as the CEO of Tesla and has brought the automotive company to reach great heights. As a passionate entrepreneur, investor, media proprietor and business magnate — founder of SpaceX, The Boring Company, and co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI — Musk had also set his sights on one of the most popular social media networks.

How It Happened

On 4 April, Musk became the platform’s largest single shareholder with a 9.2 per cent stake, which brought on a few weeks of speculation about Twitter’s future, as per The Guardian. Then, the entrepreneur was invited to join the board but instead, he declared a takeover bid on 14 April and offered to buy all of Twitter’s shares for US$54.20 each.

elon musk buys twitter for $44 billion
Image: Reuters/BBC News

Twitter’s board was initially reluctant and enacted an anti-takeover measure known as a poison pill that would have made an attempt prohibitively expensive. However, the board accepted the transaction after Musk confirmed a funding package for the deal which includes US$21 billion of his own money along with debt funding from Morgan Stanley and other financial institutions.

The transaction was approved unanimously by Twitter’s board of directors and is pending regulatory sign-off. The deal is expected to close this year. After which, Musk will be joining the Twitter staff for a question-and-answer session at a later date, according to chief executive Parag Agrawal.

The Future Of Musk?

Amidst all controversies of the deal and questioning of Musk’s reign over Twitter, many still worry that the businessman might cause a backslide in the platform’s work to curb misinformation, harassment, hate speech and more. After all, Musk has used his Twitter account to insult politicians, spread misleading claims about Covid-19 and made offensive remarks about the transgender community.

elon musk buys twitter for $44 billion
Image: Akshar Dave/Unsplash

The danger now is that unfettered free speech online may eventually result in an ugly platform. Following the deal on Monday, Derrick Johnson, president of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), directed at Musk in a statement according to CNN Business: “Do not allow Twitter to become a petri dish for hate speech, or falsehoods that subvert our democracy.”

If a successful takeover occurs, it would mark one of the biggest acquisitions in tech history and possibly shape how the world uses social media. The sale will give Musk control of a social network with over 200 million users and the company he frequently criticised. He claims that Twitter has not lived up to its potential as a platform for “free speech”.

As an influential and prominent user of the app with 83 million followers, Musk expressed his interest in buying Twitter in 2017. He believed that the network needs to become a private company instead to build trust with users and do better at serving the “societal imperative” of free speech.

On Monday, Musk tweeted: “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means”.

“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, in a statement posted on Twitter. He added that the network company has tremendous potential, and he looks forward to working with the company and users to unlock it.

Additionally, Musk intends to introduce new features, relax content restrictions, rid fake and automated accounts with algorithms and shift away from the current advertising-based revenue model.

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