Twitter has agreed to be acquired by Elon Musk in a deal valuing the company at $44 billion, the board announced on Monday afternoon.
“The proposed transaction will provide a substantial cash bonus, and we believe it is the best way forward for Twitter shareholders,” Bret Taylor, independent chairman of the company’s board, said in a statement.
Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, reiterated his intention to remake Twitter into a forum dedicated to promoting free speech.
“Free speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where issues vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said in a statement.
Musk also said he plans to “make the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeat spambots and authenticate all humans” on the platform.
It’s the biggest corporate takeover in at least two decades, The New York Times reported.
The board of directors voted unanimously in favor of the acquisition. The deal is expected to close this year, subject to Twitter shareholder approval.
No white knight
The official acquisition crowns a drama worthy of a soap opera between the famous mercurial musk and one of the most important social networks in the world.
The billionaire revealed earlier this month that he had become Twitter’s largest shareholder and soon after offered to buy the company and take it private. Twitter’s board initially resisted the offer, adopting aknown as the poison pill.
But the board decided to negotiate after Musk updated his proposal to show he had secured funding and after no other suitors came forward, according to media reports.
“It all came down to the fact that no other bidders or white knights emerged in the M&A process,” Daniel Ives, a Wedbush analyst who follows Twitter, said in a note. “Board members’ backs were against the wall once Musk detailed his $46 billion funding last week to put pen to paper on this deal,” Ives said.
Upcoming Changes to Twitter
Musk, a prolific tweeter with 83 million followers, describes himself as a “free speech absolutist.” He previously outlined changes he would like to see on the platform, including the end of content moderation, removal of ads from the platform, cracking down on spam and allowing users to edit tweets. .
In a recent TED interview, Musk said he would like to see Twitter go with allowing speech instead of moderating it. He said he would be “very reluctant” to delete tweets and would generally be cautious about permanent bans. Musk said it was “pretty dangerous” to have “mysteriously promoted and demoted tweets” and to have a “black box algorithm”. He also acknowledged that Twitter should abide by national laws governing speech in markets around the world.
News of the takeover polarized Twitter users. Republicans in Congress pushed Musk to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account, the platform’s most famous tweeter before he wasfollowing the January 6 assault on the Capitol. But liberals as well as academics who study online discourse have warned that Musk’s influence could open the platform to abuse and insults.
“Giving Musk the reins of Twitter will undoubtedly trigger the conspiracy theories the platform has tried to stifle, and any attempts to use the platform for legitimate information sharing will be overshadowed by a toxic cesspool. misinformation,” said the nonprofit Media Matters for America. in a report.