And just like that, it ended before it even started.
Elon Musk, the richest man on the planet and an avid tweeter, rejected the offer join the council of the social network. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal’s announcement abruptly ended any hopes the world had for one of the platform’s biggest provocateurs to become part of its leadership, but it also raised the possibility of Musk’s more complete takeover.
“On Tuesday, we announced that Elon will be appointed to the board of directors after a background check and formal acceptance,” Agrawal said. said at a company briefing, he shared. “Elon’s appointment to the board of directors was supposed to officially take effect on April 9, but on the same morning, Elon announced that he would no longer be on the board.”
“Elon is our largest shareholder, and we will be open to his proposals,” Agrawal added. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the situation. Musk has no media representative.
The deal to include Musk on the board of directors came after he acquired 9% of the shares in the company to become its largest individual shareholder. Documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that the seat was obtained with Musk agreeing to keep his stake below 15%.
It is unclear what happened in the interim to derail all cases. Inside employees can have bristling when appointing a business mogul who previously used his platform to call people pedophiles, pump minor cryptocurrency projects, get into trouble with SPK, raise doubts about COVID-19 vaccines and mock social justice activism. The recent series of tweets critical of the company may also have called into question how willing Musk was to bend his impulses and grievances to the interests of the company and its shareholders.
The way forward is also unclear. Musk still appears to own a significant stake in the company and has yet to fulfill his obligations. past hints when launching their own competing social network. Here are the scenarios that can unfold from here:
Musk cashes out
While there are few signs that he plans to do so, one option for Musk would be to sell his stake in Twitter outright and return to his old relationship with the company: as one of its biggest and most vocal users rather than a co-owner.
Getting involved in the first place may have already exacerbated his longstanding conflict with the SEC after he was latecomer filling out the required form disclosing information about the purchase of his share. Leaving now will save him further headaches and also give him more time to focus on his own companies, including Tesla and SpaceX.
He would also make a profit if he could cash out quickly. Although the news that he was not on the board caused letter drop in the value of Twitter shares, they are still much higher their price before his investment went public.
Musk doubles down
An updated SEC form that Musk filed on Monday confirms that after he turned down Twitter’s offer to join the board, he “may purchase additional shares of common stock from time to time” in the company, leaving the door open for him to exceed the 15% holding limit. which he would have faced as a board member.
If he went far enough in that direction or partnered with other activist shareholders, Musk could influence Twitter more directly, forcing leadership or policy changes to bring the platform more in line with his vision of it as a free-speech-free zone.
According to financial analyst Dan Ives, this could happen. “Now it’s moving from the Cinderella story of Musk joining the Twitter board and keeping his stake below 14.9%, to a likely Game of Thrones battle in the coming months,” said Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities. tweeted.
Musk hangs around and plays gadfly
Even without a seat on the board of directors and without changing his stake in the company, Musk will certainly have many opinions about what Twitter is and how it should be. Using the considerable power he has gained not only as a major shareholder but also as one of the platform’s most popular users – he has more than 81 million followers, whose opinion he regularly solicits via in-app surveys – Musk will remain a powerful stakeholder in the company.
Indeed, Musk’s new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission speaks of his freedom “to participate in discussions with the board of directors and/or [Twitter’s] management team” and “express your opinion… to the public through social media or other channels.”
Some of the changes he could seek are ideological. In particular, Musk expressed dissatisfaction with the way the company handles free speech through its content moderation policy. “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public square, failure to respect the principles of free speech fundamentally undermines democracy,” he said. tweeted last month. “What must be done?”
Other ideas are more reminiscent of any superuser’s emotional investment in the product they’re obsessed with. For example, Musk called cryptocurrency spam bots Twitter’s “most annoying problem” and rekindled a long-standing debate about whether the app should allow users to edit tweets after they’ve been posted (the company said this I’m working on a feature like this.although it does so independently of Musk).
He also said the company should allow users of its Twitter Blue premium subscription to be verified, a blue check mark of legitimacy currently reserved for politicians, journalists and other public figures.
Musk may be betting that he can push this kind of change better outside of the board than inside it.
“In these circumstances, he will have as much influence as a shareholder as he does as a director, simply because of his significant public presence,” said Charles Elson, founding director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. “At this point, it doesn’t matter if he is in the tent as director or out of the tent. He has significant … name recognition, public attention, and what he says about them will have an impact.”
Last week, a Twitter spokesperson told The Times that while the board “plays an important advisory role and provides feedback, day-to-day operations and decisions are made by Twitter management and employees.”
Bloomberg’s Matt Levine, a longtime chronicler of Musk’s machinations, also noted that if Musk were on the board, he would be obligated to act in the best interest of shareholders, and not just follow his own whims.
Now, Levin wrote On Monday, “If Musk wants to change how Twitter works, he can meet Agrawal whenever he wants and ask for whatever he wants. If Agrawal says no, he could threaten to buy more shares and take over the company.”