Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service worth over US$7.31 billion as of the third quarter of 2021. On Twitter users can post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read those that are publicly available. Users can interact with Twitter through a browser or mobile App.
Twitter was created in March 2009 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams but launched in July of that year. By 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and the service handled an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day. In 2013, it was one of the ten most-visited websites and described as “the SMS of the Internet”. By the first quarter of 2019, Twitter recorded over 330 million monthly active users.
There are social media platforms, but you will agree that Twitter has carved some relevance for itself. I believe that Twitter is where the fate of the world is decided by a minority of users who write the vast majority of tweets. Little wonder all eyes are on Twitter.
Elon Musk Got Interested
We all woke up on the 4th of April 2022 and found “Elon” and “Elon Musk” the world’s richest man trending on Twitter with thousands of posts announcing that he just acquired a major stake in Twitter Inc.
Musk is Twitter’s largest individual shareholder and the second-largest shareholder with 9.2% shares which represents 73.5 million Twitter shares, just behind the Vanguard group which owns about 82.4 million Twitter shares representing 10.3%.
One with such humongous shares indeed would influence the network’s future. On the 5th of April shortly after it became public that he acquired shares in the company, he started tweeting about possible business propositions for the social media company. Musk posted a poll on Twitter asking users to vote on whether they wanted the company to add an edit button that would allow people to change tweets after they have been published. The tweet garnered so much attention that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal had to tweet urging users to “vote carefully” on the poll. “The consequences of this poll will be important.”
Twitter invited Musk to join the board By the end of the day. An agreement if signed would prevent him from owning more than 14.9% of the company’s stock. Musk’s sudden refusal to join the board came as a surprise to all shareholders, investors, management and his followers, leaving all wondering what his plans were. However, Musk files an amended disclosure with the SEC which can now allow him to purchase as many shares as he wants.
The much anticipated happened – Musk bids to buy out stockholders in a cash deal valued at $43 billion and take Twitter private. The offer is $54.20 a share, a 54% premium over the price when he started building his stake in January. He described the Twitter offer as his “best and final” one.
Why Did Elon Musk Want to Buy Over Twitter?
The issue of free speech has been an ongoing public debate. The case of former US President Donald Trump and how he used social media during the Covid-19 era and the insurrection at the Capitol throws into the sharpest relief the essence of the argument against complete freedom of speech – and Musk’s control of Twitter.
Musk tweeted on the 24th of March – “Worried about de facto bias in the Twitter algorithm having a major effect on the public; Twitter algorithm should be open source,”
On March 25th he added that “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk asked his Twitter followers.
“Is a new platform needed?” Musk asked in a tweet on March 26th. “Am giving serious thought to this.”
As I conclude, Musk believes in free speech without the clampdowns of regulatory laws as he goes all out to make that happen to the extent of risking a possible loss of investment. He shares the same likeness with Donald Trump and I guess if he were in the position he is now on Twitter, we would have heard a different story regarding the Trump-Twiter saga
Let’s all watch and see how things pan out with Musk and Twitter shareholders in his bid to turn Twitter into a private company.