On April 25, news circulated in the media that Elon Musk, the world’s richest man according to Forbes and CEO of Tesla Inc. and SpaceX acquired Twitter. This would be a swift action after Musk had dared to buy Twitter at a $43 billion and $54.20 tender offer on April 14, 2022, rendering Twitter not to consider his offer by staging a “poison pill” until the reversal was made.
The reversal was made when the “Technoking” of Tesla Inc. issued an explanation of how he planned to source for a $46.5 billion, detailed as $25.5 billion in debt and $21 billion in equity — of which would be funded by Mr. Musk although, the funds may come from his stake in the electric car maker company, Tesla. Information about how the $21 billion would emerge is yet to be known as the $219 billion valued distracted CEO pushes for “free speech”.
“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. “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter because that is what free speech means”, he added.
The timeline of Musk’s Twitter buyout started from clandestinely buying Twitter shares on January 31 to accumulating an over 5% stake in the social media company presenting him as the largest shareholder at the time. He bought a 9.2% share worth $2.9 billion as of March 4.
The renowned critic had left a clue he would be privatizing the app when he declined to be a part of the Twitter board, especially that he would not own up to 14.9% common stock and be serviced to a term of about 2 years if he joined, the term which would be terminated by 2024 — limiting his bandwidth. Reacting to this, CEO of Twitter, Parag Agrawal made a tweet attaching an image about the free speech absolutist disapproval of joining the (Twitter) board.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter — on November 29, 2021 stepped down for Parag Agrawal to come in as the new CEO. Dorsey made a consent to Elon Musk’s deal in a thread on Twitter:
“Everything In Its Right Place.”
“I love Twitter. Twitter is the closest thing we have to a global consciousness.”
“The idea and service is all that matters to me, and I will do whatever it takes to protect both.”
“Twitter as a company has always been my sole issue and my biggest regret. It has been owned by Wall Street and the ad model. Taking it back from Wall Street is the correct first step.”
“In principle, I don’t believe anyone should own or run Twitter.”
“It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company. Solving for the problem of it being a company, however, Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.”
“Elon’s goal of creating a platform that is ‘maximally trusted and broadly inclusive’ is the right one.”
“This is also Parag Agrawal’s [@paraga] goal, and why I chose him. Thank you both for getting the company out of an impossible situation. This is the right path…I believe it with all my heart.”
“I’m so happy Twitter will continue to serve the public conversation.”
“Around the world, and into the stars!”
Dorsey’s endorsement of Elon Musk’s intention to add features to the platform is a great one, albeit puts the current CEO and even the fate of the company’s ownership at risk of uncertainty.
One of the controversies debated about the privatization of the platform is the irony of “free speech”. It’s been rather identified as an advancement to promote “hate speech” as concerns are raised about the scope of democracy Mr Musk, the identified “free speech absolutist” advocates for.
There are tendencies former US President, Donald Trump gets back to use the platform although Musk hasn’t made any comment about that.
After being permanently restricted from Twitter, Musk’s $44 billion buyout might ease the tension among the inherent tech powers and political figures.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth. I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth. The bottom line is, no, I am not going back to Twitter”, Trump said to Fox news in reaction to the masses’ expectation of his reinstatement.
Although, Twitter may lose grounds on its embarkation of true democracy as countries with limited freedom of speech, especially on social media, would be on the lookout to withdraw their citizens. Its recent policy is a potential hazard to cutting off basic fundamental rights even though, in actual fact, the struggle to claim Twitter ownership had been to gain freedom of speech.
In African countries, digital authoritarianism is embraced. According to rest of the world, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe are countries that have taken the step to shut down the internet or block social media, which instinctively reveals the African government’s approach to internet freedom.
Among other controversies, industry experts say Twitter would be vulnerable and open to danger. Mr Musk disclosed that he doesn’t have the understanding of management and the economics of the platform. This will be a big blow as fingers are crossed to see what becomes of Twitter.
While these concerns are yet to be scrutinized, Mr Musk’s deal leaves the world to an open guess. CEO, Parag Agrawal is set to be paid $42 million according to Equilar, a research firm while Jack Dorsey owns $978 million.
Written by: Adebola Makinde
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