Elon Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter, the shock bid less than two weeks ago and he expressed that Twitter had “tremendous potential” that he would unlock.He called for a series of changes from relaxing its content restrictions to eradicating fake accounts.The firm initially rebuffed Mr Musk’s bid, but it will now ask shareholders to vote to approve the deal.
Mr Musk is the world’s richest person, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of $273.6bn mostly due to his shareholding in electric vehicle maker Tesla which he runs. He also leads the aerospace firm SpaceX.
“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,” Mr Musk said in a statement announcing the deal.
“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,” he added.
“Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
The move comes as Twitter faces growing pressure from politicians and regulators over the content that appears on its platform. It has drawn critics from left and right over its efforts to mediate misinformation on the platform.
On Twitter, MP Julian Knight, chairman of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, called the deal an “extraordinary development in the world of social media”.
“It will be interesting to see how a privately owned Twitter (run by a man who is an absolutist over free speech) will react to global moves to regulate.”
As part of the takeover, which is expected to close later this year, Twitter’s shares will be delisted and it will be taken private.
Mr Musk has suggested this will give him freedom to make the changes he wants to the business.
Among other ideas, he has suggested allowing longer posts and introducing the ability to edit them after they have been published.
Twitter shares on Monday closed more than 5% higher after the deal was announced.
But the price remained lower than Mr Musk’s $54.20 per share offer, a sign that Wall Street believes he is overpaying for the firm.
Mr Musk has said he doesn’t “care about the economics” of the purchase. However, he will take on a company with a chequered record of financial performance.
Despite its influence, Twitter has rarely turned a profit and user growth, particularly in the US, has slowed.
The company, founded in 2004, ended 2021 with $5bn in revenue and 217 million daily users globally – a fraction of the figures claimed by other platforms such as Facebook.
Bret Taylor, chair of Twitter’s board, said it had fully assessed Mr Musk’s offer and it was “the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders”.
Mr Musk’s targeting of Twitter has moved at remarkable speed. It emerged at the beginning of April that he had become the largest shareholder in the firm with a 9.2% stake.
He was then invited to join Twitter’s board but turned down the offer before launching a surprise bid for the company on 14 April, saying he wanted to “unlock” its potential as a bastion of freedom of speech.
Twitter tried to fend off his bid, threatening to dilute the shareholdings of anyone who bought more than a 15% stake in the firm. However, its stance shifted after Mr Musk revealed more financial details about his proposed bid.
He has secured $25.5bn of financing for the deal and will take a $21bn stake in the business.
The board unanimously approved the bid, which will now be presented to shareholders for a vote.