Elon Musk has a backup plan if his $43 billion bid to take Twitter private is rejected by the company’s board of directors.
“I’m not sure that I will actually be able to acquire [Twitter],” he admitted during an interview at TED2022 in Vancouver Thursday while slamming the social media giant for being a selective, not inclusive, free speech platform.
While Musk has said his $54.20-per-share offer is his “best and final” one, he teased that “there is” a Plan B but declined to elaborate.
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Musk, who has referred to Twitter as the “de facto town square,” has emphasized the importance of creating an “inclusive arena for free speech.”
“One of the things that I believe Twitter should do is open source the algorithm and make any changes to people’s tweets, or if they emphasized or de-emphasized, that action should be made apparent so anyone can see that an action has been taken so there’s no sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually,” he explained.
“Healthy free speech is when someone says something you don’t like…”
“Healthy free speech is when someone says something you don’t like,” he quipped.
While he acknowledged on Thursday that content moderation should be applied to explicit calls to violence, he argued that Twitter’s policies should primarily match the laws of the countries it operates in.
“Going beyond that and having it be unclear who’s making what changes to who, to where, having tweets sort of mysteriously be promoted and demoted with no insight into what’s going on … I think this can be quite dangerous,” he said.
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Ultimately, Musk does not care about Twitter’s economics “at all.” Instead, he’s focused on creating a “maximally trusted and broadly inclusive” public platform that he believes is “extremely important to the future of civilization.”
When asked if he had “funding secured” to follow through on his bid for Twitter should it be approved, Musk replied that he has “sufficient assets” and “can do it if possible.” He also noted his intent is to keep as many Twitter shareholders as he can through a private company.
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His latest comments come after he disclosed his 9.2% stake in Twitter April 4. Though he was initially invited to join Twitter’s board, he later declined the offer. As part of joining the board, Musk would’ve been unable to own more than 14.9% of Twitter’s stock while serving on the board or for 90 days after. Musk’s board term would have expired at Twitter’s 2024 annual meeting.
The Wall Street Journal reports Twitter’s management is weighing using a “poison pill” to limit Musk’s stake in the company by allowing stockholders to purchase more shares at a discounted rate.
Saudi royal Alwaleed bin Talal, who says he is one of Twitter’s largest, long-term shareholders, tweeted that he does not believe Musk’s offer “comes close to the intrinsic value” of the company.
Musk responded by questioning the royal’s investment holdings and his views on free speech.
Shares of Twitter closed at $45.08 at the end of Thursday’s trading session.