Twitter agreed to be bought by Elon Musk in an agreement valued at $44 billion. The board declared Monday afternoon.
Bret Taylor, an independent chair of the company’s board, stated in a statement that the proposed transaction would deliver a substantial cash bonus and was the best way forward for Twitter stockholders.
Musk, SpaceX’s CEO, reiterated his plans for Twitter to be redesigned as a platform that promotes free speech.
He stated that free speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy and that Twitter is the digital square where vital issues for the future of humanity can be debated.
Musk stated that he will open-source the algorithms to increase trust, defeat spam bots and authenticate all users on the platform.
The deal is the largest to take a company public in at least 20 years, according to the New York Times .
The acquisition was unanimously approved by the board. Subject to approval by Twitter shareholders, the deal is expected close in this year.
No white knight
This official acquisition completes a dramatic story between Musk, the famedly mercurial, and one of the most prominent social networks in the world.
This month, the billionaire revealed that he was Twitter’s largest shareholder. Soon after, he proposed to buy the company and make it private. Twitter’s board initially rejected the offer and adopted an anti takeover measure, known as a poison tablet.
According to media reports, Musk’s proposal was updated by the board to show that he had secured financing. The board then decided to negotiate.
“It all came to no other bidders and white knights emerging from the M&A process,” Daniel Ives (a Wedbush analyst who also follows Twitter), stated in a note. Ives stated that board members “back was against wall” after Musk disclosed his $46 billion financing last week in order to put pen to paper on the deal.
Coming changes to Twitter
Musk is a prolific Twitter user with over 83 million followers. He describes himself as a “free speech absolutist”. Musk has described previously changes he would like for the platform to include a halt to content moderation and dropping ads from it. He also suggested that spam be curtailed and that users could edit their tweets.
Musk stated in a recent TED interview that he would prefer Twitter to allow speech rather than moderating it. Musk said that he would be reluctant to delete tweets, and would be cautious about permanent bans. Musk stated that it was dangerous to have “tweets mysteriously promoted, degraded” and a “black box algorithm”. Musk also said that Twitter must adhere to all national laws regarding speech in markets worldwide.
Twitter users have been divided by the news of the takeover. Republicans in Congress have called for Musk, former President Donald Trump’s account to be restored. He was permanently banned following the attack on the Capitol on January 6. Liberals and academics who study online speech warned that Musk’s influence could allow for abuse and mud-slinging.
The nonprofit Media Matters for America stated in a statement that Musk’s control over Twitter would undoubtedly open up conspiracy theories. Any attempt to use the platform for information sharing legitimately will be overshadowed and dominated by misinformation.