The long protracted deal involving Tesla CEO, Elon Musk and popular social media platform, Twitter has finally come to a close. The deal reportedly went through after Musk met the deadline set by the Delaware Chancery Court Judge, Kathaleen McCormick.
Just in case you missed the timeline of events that led to the $44bn purchase of the enterprise by the billionaire, this piece will give you a brief of all that has happened, as well as inform you of five anticipated changes based on the premise for the takeover, to the platform from the change of ownership.
Musk acquires 9.2% stake in Twitter
It all started when Musk hinted in successive tweets in March about his desire to own a similar platform that provides competition to the social media platform.
That same month, specifically on the 25th, the Tesla founder conducted a poll on Twitter asking his followers if they believe that the platform “rigorously adheres” to the principle of free speech, adding that the consequences of the poll will be important.
It was on this basis that the proposed change of ownership was built. The tweet signalled Musk’s discontent with the platform’s abhorrence for opinions and freedom of expression. In fact, he specifically used the words “de facto public square” in describing what the platform ought to be.
This was quickly followed by an acquisition of $3 billion worth of Twitter shares in April which made him the highest shareholder, surpassing Twitter founder Jack Dorsey who owned a 2.25% stake at that time.
In a surprising move though, the Tesla founder decided not to join the social media company’s board. This was communicated by the then Chief Executive, Parag Agrawal.
The shocker came barely 48 hours after Musk made comments on changing how the Twitter Blue premium subscription service works, including slashing its price, converting the company’s San Francisco headquarters to a shelter for the homeless, banning advertising and giving the option to pay in the cryptocurrency Dogecoin.
Musk offers to buy Twitter
Not long afterwards, Musk offered to outrightly purchase Twitter.
According to an SEC filing, the South African billionaire offered to acquire all remaining shares in Twitter for $54.20 per share. Twitter shares, at that time, were $45.85 per share, soaring 18% in pre-market trading.
“However, since making my investment I now realise the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed into a private company,” Musk says. My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder. Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it, Musk said.
Well, that was expected after all, from his initial take on what Twitter represented, and the need to own a similar platform that provides competition to the platform.
Fake bots stalls deal
The social interaction platform’s board agreed to sell to the Tesla founder, Elon Musk, in a $44 billion deal.
“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon Musk’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” said the company’s independent board chair Bret Taylor, in a statement announcing the deal.
In his own statement, Musk added that “Free speech was the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spambots, and authenticating all humans,” he added.
“Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
But then, Bots came into the picture…
The reported takeover was put on hold after Musk insinuated in a tweet that the deal has been put on hold to effectively ascertain if spam accounts or bots on the social media platform were truly below 5% as claimed by Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.
He however claimed he remained committed to the purchase. Especially if the company provides public proof that, in fact, less than 5% of its accounts are fake or spam, as the company reported in a May 2 regulatory filing. This is why Musk has been in court.
Now, the litigation process has ended and the purchase has been made. Based on the aforementioned, what changes should we expect?
5 changes to expect going forward
In dramatic style the new founder started the week’s activities with a visit to the San Francisco HQ in a pun of words-“let that sink in’” carrying a sink of course.
Much of the action came later when he reportedly fired quite a number of Twitter’s senior executives, including CEO, Parag Agrawal, CFO, Ned Segal, the Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust, Vijaya Gadde, and the General Counsel, Sean Edgett.
Also, in news making the rounds yesterday, quite a number of its engineers and staff have also been fired and replaced by their counterparts from Tesla, signalling a new reign.
Here is a list of changes that have taken place since the purchase was completed:
1. Freedom of speech/ account suspension
In what may seem like an idiomatic expression, Musk made a tweet signalling that the bird which was possibly bound or in a cage prior to his takeover, has been set free.
From Musk’s first intent on owning the social media platform, entrenching freedom of speech and expression, it is not wrong to assume and infer that his statement is directly linked to allowing opinions of different sought on the platform.
Since then, several takes have been springing up on the platforms on issues which were previously seen as sensitive and provocative. This issue previously had some sort of “policy” attached to its usage or allowance on the platform.
Musk himself said it…
Now, people are beginning to come out expressively to air their thoughts and opinions on these controversial takes without the fear of having to face any disciplinary action or even suffer suspension to their accounts.
2. Musk as CEO
Musk wasted no time clearing house when he got in: Among those fired are the CEO, Parag Agrawal, the CFO, Ned Segal, the Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust, Vijaya Gadde, and the General Counsel, Sean Edgett basically at the same time he was officially handed the keys.
Clearly, there was no love lost between Musk and Agrawal. And he’d previously been criticized for posting criticism of Gadde that essentially got her targeted by his troll army. Plus, for the Twitter top legal brass, I bet he wasn’t feeling too great about that bit of litigation the deal closing helped him escape.
As a CEO he will have to take care of different challenges like user growth, revenue growth and content moderation hurdles.
3. Hire and fire
Accompanying major changes to top executive staff members is also a change in the general staff comprising engineers, computer scientists and data analysts.
In confirmation of a particular let-off, Musk himself commented on a particular tweet insinuating that he had fired an entire team of Twitter data engineers and tagged them as “laid-off” employees.
A number of employees have come on Twitter to announce the loss of their positions.
4. A potential duel with advertisers
Initially, before the purchase, Musk had made comments relating to changing how the platform’s Blue premium subscription service works, including slashing its price, converting the company’s San Francisco headquarters to a shelter for the homeless, banning advertising and giving the option to pay in the cryptocurrency Dogecoin.
However, in a U-turn statement, he insinuated that advertising can be very useful if the content had high relevance. He also mentioned that the platform would help promote a platform where people could select the contents they prefer in the spirit of fairness.
5. The future of crypto
There is no doubt that Musk is a huge fan of crypto. In fact, the Tesla founder had previously shown support for Dogecoin on the platform when he insinuated that one of the things he would do when he takes over is, give the option to pay in the cryptocurrency Dogecoin.
Since then, the digital currency has risen in value and experienced sustained growth, although, still far below its peers. The coin might just be the next thing to witness a significant gain in value if the CEO makes do with his words.
In a similar fashion, yesterday, a tweet from the Twitter Dev account revealed that the site will pilot a feature called Tweet Tiles in order to enhance links to certain NFT marketplaces and we have previously been aware that the platform is working on features that will integrate cryptocurrency as well.
This might just be another major change that Musk will try to integrate into the payment structure going forward in a bid to make the company more profitable.