The board of social media platform Twitter has agreed to a $44 billion takeover offer from Elon Musk.
Less than two weeks ago, Musk made a shocking takeover offer, saying Twitter had “tremendous potential” and wanted to unleash it.
He also called for a series of reforms, such as easing content restrictions and cleaning up fake accounts.
Twitter initially rejected Musk’s bid, but now Twitter will ask shareholders to vote to approve the deal.
Musk, with an estimated net worth of $273.6 billion, is the richest person in the world, mostly due to his Tesla stake. Musk also leads rocket company SpaceX.
In his statement announcing the deal, Musk said that free speech is the cornerstone of a normal democracy, and that Twitter is a digital square where matters vital to the future of humanity can be debated.
Musk added, “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by beefing up the product with new features, making algorithms open source to increase credibility, fighting spam bots, and certifying all humans. “
Will Trump come back?
Twitter is facing growing pressure from politicians and regulators for its content, and the company has drawn criticism from both the left and the right for its response to inappropriate information on the platform.
Most notably, former US President Donald Trump’s account was permanently terminated after the riots at the Capitol in Washington on January 6 last year, citing the risk of “inciting violence”.
At the time, Musk said, “A lot of people are going to be super unhappy that West Coast tech is the de facto arbiter of free speech.”
The news that Musk bought Twitter was cheered by the right in the United States, but Trump told Fox News on Monday that even if his Twitter ban is lifted, Trump does not plan to return to Twitter, but chooses to Using his own platform, Truth Social.
“I’m not going to be on Twitter, I’m staying on Truth Social,” Trump told Fox News.
He added that he believes Musk, whom he calls a “good guy,” will make “improvements” on the platform.
Tianfeng International analyst Ming Guo told the BBC that Trump may decide to return to the platform if he runs for the 2024 US presidential election.
“If Twitter is willing to restore his account, then Twitter is still a better choice for him to speak out,” Guo said.
“It’s not going to be easy to build a more influential platform than Twitter before the next presidential election.”
worries and expectations
The acquisition is expected to close later this year, meaning Twitter’s stock will be delisted and then taken private.
Musk said going private would give him the freedom to make changes to Twitter.
He also suggested that longer tweets should be allowed, and edits allowed after tweets were posted.
Shares of Twitter closed up more than 5 percent on Monday after the deal was announced. But it’s still below Musk’s $54.20 per share offer, which means Wall Street thinks Musk’s bid is too high.
Musk said he wasn’t “concerned” with the “economic benefits” of the acquisition. Granted, Twitter’s financial performance has been lackluster.
Despite its impressive reach, Twitter is rarely profitable, and user growth, especially in the U.S., has slowed.
The 2004-founded company ended 2021 with $5 billion in revenue and 217 million daily users worldwide, a fraction of what other platforms like Facebook claim.
Twitter chairman Bret Taylor said the board had fully evaluated Musk’s proposal and believed it was “the best path forward for Twitter shareholders.”
News of the deal came as human rights groups raised concerns about hate speech on Twitter and the power the acquisition would give Musk. Musk once called himself an “absolute libertarian.”
Musk, who has repeatedly criticized Twitter’s content moderation policy, believes the social media should become a true platform for free speech.
Amnesty International said on Twitter it was concerned about any steps Twitter might take to weaken policies and mechanisms that would otherwise protect users.
“The last thing we need is a Twitter that willfully turns a blind eye to violent and abusive speech directed at users, especially those most affected, including women, non-binary people, etc.”