February 4, 2023 1:58 pm

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The Bird Is Free: Twitter Takeover Of Elon Musk

Elon Musk started investing in Twitter's shares in January 2022. It never caught public attention due to its small volume, and eventually, by the end of March 2022, Musk had acquired 5% of its share.

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The twitter-Elon Musk saga which began way back in April 2022, has finally come to a halt with the complete final takeover of the Micro-Blogging site by SpaceX and Tesla Inc. CEO, the World’s richest man, Elon Reeve Musk.

On the 28th of October, 2022, Elon Musk’s $44bn (£38.1bn) takeover of Twitter is finally completed. After the takeover and firing of some of the top Executives of Twitter, in an apparent reference to the closing up of the deal, Elon Musk tweeted, “the bird is freed”.

Social Media, esp; Twitter is abuzz with speculations and the takeover is trending worldwide. This deal can be termed as one of the ‘Messiest’ Tech Deals in history. The reason it is in talks is because of the interesting timeline that developed around this deal. Be it the coming of Parag Agarwal as CEO or the leaving of Jack Dorsey. Be it the court case, after the speculation that Musk might pull out of the deal after the initial announcement, or the taking over 73,486,938 shares of Twitter (9.2% stake) and then wishing for a full takeover.

Now, as per Bloomberg, Musk is all set to Reverse Lifetime Bans on Twitter Users in accordance to the comments Musk made back in May 2022.

Elon Musk has been critical of Twitter’s policies and always voiced for “Free Speech”. After the April 2022 episode of Twitter confirming the sale of Twitter to Musk, as reported by AFP, ANI tweeted Screengrab from Musk’s profile where he was seen voicing about “Free Speech” and working closely for it after his takeover.

Musk in his statement said, “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”.

Top Executives Exit

After the Twitter takeover of Musk, top Executives of the Social Media giant have left or have been Escorted out of the Directorial Board of the company. The top executives include; Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO of Twitter Ned Segal, and chief content moderator Vijaya Gadde, who allegedly was responsible for the Lifetime Ban on the account of the 45th President of the United States, Donal J. Trump.

Reuters reported that Parag and Segal were escorted out of Twitter’s HQ after the deal was closed. While some users clearly reported that they left the company’s HQ and won’t return back soon, “As the Musk Era Begins”.

As reported by BBC, the people on the Right Wing of the United States political spectrum will view the exit of Parag and other executives as a Win for Free Speech, as these executives were hailed as villains, who were curtailing the voice of the people on Twitter, mostly of the right wing.

Apart from Parag, Segal and Gadde, Bret Taylor, Twitter’s Independent Board Chair since November last year, took to LinkedIn to change his Bio, indicating he has been let out too. Adding one more name to the list of the Executives being fired, Sean Edgett, general counsel of Twitter has been laid off as well.

It is ironic, how after buying a small stake in Twitter, Musk was welcomed to the Twitter’s Board by Parag Agrawal himself. Back in April 2022, Parag tweeted saying, “I’m excited to share that we’re appointing Elon Musk to our board!”

But, Musk declined to join the board the very same day, as informed by Parag Agrawal in his message. Clearly, he had other plans which seems to come up now after his takeover and the exit of Executives.

The Message put out by Parag Agrawal after Musk declined joining the Twitter Board reads:

Elon Musk has decided not to join our Board. Here’s what I can share about what happened. The Board and I had many discussions about Elon joining the board, and with Elon directly. We were excited to collaborate and clear about the risks. We also believed that having Elon as a fiduciary of the company where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders, was the best path forward. The board offered him a seat. We announced on Tuesday that Elon would be appointed to the Board contingent on a background check and formal acceptance. Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same day that he will no longer be joining the board. I believe this is for the best. We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input. There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged. The decisions we make and how we execute is in our hands, no-one else’s. Let’s tune out the noise, and stay focused on the work and what we’re building.

Twitter’s Challenges

With Elon musk’s takeover of Twitter, The New York Stock Exchange has listed the stocks of Twitter under the ‘Suspended’ category.

On the earning front from Twitter after spending a hefty sum is something Musk isn’t sure about. While talking about the revenue from Twitter, Musk asserted that Twitter was “an asset that has just sort of languished for a long time, but has incredible potential, although obviously myself and the other investors are overpaying for Twitter right now”.

It is to be noted that the Twitter deal for Musk kicked off when he offered to buy the company at $54.20 per share, his “best and final.”

After the takeover, Musk released a statement on Twitter and explained his vision and his thoughts on social media ads. He further explained his motivation behind the buy-out stating that he did this ‘To help humanity’ and ‘not to make money.

In his statement, assuring the advertisers on Twitter, Musk said he won’t let Twitter become a ‘free-for-all hellscape’. His statement reads, “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.”

His full statement to the Advertisers read:

I wanted to reach out personally to share my motivation in acquiring Twitter. There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Most of it has been wrong.
The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence. There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.
In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fueled and catered to those polarized extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost.
That is why I bought Twitter. I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love. And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility.
That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences! In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature.
l also very much believe that advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain and inform you; it can show you a service or product or medical treatment that you never knew existed, but is right for you. For this to be true, it is essential to show Twitter users advertising that is as relevant as possible to their needs. Low relevancy ads are spam, but highly relevant ads are actually content!
Fundamentally, Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise. To everyone who has partnered with us, I thank you. Let us build something extraordinary together.

Timeline of the deal

As reported by BBC, Elon Musk started investing in Twitter’s shares from January 2022. It never caught public attention due to its small volume and eventually, by the end of March 2022, Musk had acquired 5% of its share. The record of transactions and information came after the release of the Securities and Exchange Commission 13G filing released in April 2022.

Then came April and Musk caught world’s attention after the reveal that he was the largest stakeholder in Twitter at 9.2%. And after this, he offered to buy a full stake in Twitter for $44bn.

Then he began putting up Tweets at regular intervals voicing about Free Speech and dealing up with the spam accounts prevailing on the platform. By mid-May, Musk began to lose interest in the deal citing that he was provided with wrong information about the existing Spam accounts on Twitter.

After showing disinterest in the deal due to the revelation that at least 5% of accounts on Twitter are fake, Musk tweeted, “Still committed to acquisition”. But, in July 2022, he lastly announced giving up on the deal.

In his letter to the Securities Filing, Musk Wrote:

I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy. However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company. As a result, I am offering to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced. 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.

A legal battle followed and a hefty amount of $1bn. was slapped on Musk by Twitter, as compensation for backing up from the deal. The legal battle continued for the next 4 months and finally, in October 2022, Musk agreed to move forward with the deal under the condition of pausing the legal proceedings.

What Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has in store for India

After Elon Musk taking over the Twitter starting 28th of October, and as has been put out by Musk regularly that after his acquisition, Law of the Land will be followed and Democratic principles will be taken care of, India is hopeful for the future.

There has been a plethora of Misinformation being spread through Twitter since the Onset of Covid and before. Orders were issued for Twitter, by the Government, to work in line with the Laws but instead of following the lead, the Social Media Giant moved to courts to overturn the Government orders.

The government of India will be issuing a notification of New IT Rules today. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT has told Reuters that it is expected from Twitter now to continue to adhere to the new rules and laws, irrespective of the ownership.

The Central government has been struggling to make Social Media Giants follow the IT Rules, due to various legal complications. Now, the Indian government can expect ‘Twitter’ under Musk to comply with the Existing and Forthcoming IT rules.

Way Forward

Musk changed his Twitter bio earlier this week. His bio reads, “Chief Twit”. His Bio is the representation, that he would be at the centre of everything that is about to come from the Micro-Blogging site. The Twitter Management team hasn’t put their cards out, but it believed that ultimately, Musk would be at charge of the Company.

Speaking about future plans, Sarah Personette, Twitter CCO wrote, “Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged”, clearly revealing there’s no big change happening in the way Ads are being circulated on Twitter.

Musk has also revealed that his plans for Twitter is not limited to the Spam Accounts or Free Speech and Bots account. There’s more to it and this was clear when he posted that his plans for the Social Media giant, Twitter, include ambitious changes including “X, the app for everything”. This also gave rise to social media guessing games. People guessed that Twitter would be changed in line with the Chinese social media giant, ‘WeChat’, which is referred to as a “Super App” with services ranging from Chatting to Food Delivery and Online Payments.

It would be interesting to see how Musk would fare out in this new role as Twitter chief and how Twitter would come up under his leadership.

Suman Shekhar
Suman Shekhar
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