Elon Musk’s Twitter Era Begins, Setting Stage for Reboot of Social Platform

Elon Musk’s Twitter Era Begins, Setting Stage for Reboot of Social Platform

Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter.

Ahead of a court-ordered deadline Friday, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and the richest person in the world closed the $44 billion deal, CNBC and Bloomberg reported, setting the stage for an overhaul of the platform that he says will be built around free speech.

Musk tweeted: “the bird is freed.”

His first order of business was relieving the company’s senior leadership, with CEO Parag Agrawal exiting the company, according to multiple reports. Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal tweeted Friday that Thursday was his last day at the company after five years of working there. Agrawal is in line to receive a $39 million severance in the deal, while Segal will receive a payday of more than $25 million. (Twitter reps didn’t reply for comment.)

Early on Friday, Twitter in a regulatory filing said that the New York Stock Exchange has notified the Securities and Exchange Commission “of its intention to remove the entire class of the stated securities from listing and registration on the exchange at the opening of business on November 8.” It added: “The merger between Twitter Inc. and X Holdings II Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of X Holdings I Inc., wholly owned by Elon R. Musk, became effective on October 27.”

The deal also marks the end of a wild seven months, in which Musk went from being a Twitter investor to leading a hostile takeover in mere weeks, and with him seeking to terminate the deal just a few months later, citing Twitter’s well-known issues with bots on the platform.

Indeed, bots were cited by Musk as one of the reasons he wanted to buy Twitter in his first interview about the acquisition at a TED conference April 14. “Twitter has become kind of the de facto town square, so it is just really important that people have the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law,” he said at the conference.

And on Oct. 4, Musk shared a new reason why he wanted to complete the deal, on Twitter, of course: “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”

Musk began acquiring shares in Twitter early this year, according to securities filings. He disclosed his stake in early April, and was offered a board seat (which he declined). Then April 14, he offered to buy Twitter outright for $54.20 per share, stunning the tech and business world. Eleven days later, Musk and Twitter had a signed term sheet.

But the deal was only the beginning of the drama.

After the purchase agreement was signed, the stock market tanked, with tech stocks hit particularly hard. Suddenly $54.20 per share for Twitter seemed mighty expensive, and with Tesla stock also in freefall, Musk’s deal became much more costly.

So Musk began to weigh in on Twitter’s bot problem, suggesting that he had no idea it was so pervasive, and that the deal might need to be unwound.

And on July 8, lawyers for Musk wrote a letter claiming to “terminate” the deal, blaming the spam and bot accounts. Just a few days later, Twitter sued in Delaware Chancery Court to enforce the merger agreement.

Since then there was a whistleblower, further termination letters, private text messages released to the public, and any number of other surprises related to the deal.

But now it’s done.

Twitter is Musk’s problem and project now, and he will need to find a way to justify the high price tag he paid.

One idea under consideration per the Washington Post? Cutting 75 percent of Twitter’s employee base, potentially improving its margins, but paving the way for a less moderated platform.