Elon Musk, owner of Hawthorne-based SpaceX and by some accounts the world’s richest man, is buying Twitter for the staggering sum of $44 billion, it was announced Monday.
“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,” Musk, 50, said on Monday.
“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 spam bots, and authenticating all humans,” he continued. “Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
Musk is an active presence on the social media platform, and has criticized some of its editorial decisions in the past. Earlier this month, Musk disclosed that he’d purchased a 9.1% stake in the company. He was offered a seat on Twitter’s board of directors but turned it down.
“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” company board chair Bret Taylor said in a statement Monday announcing the deal. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
Musk tweeted Monday: “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”
Twitter was founded in 2006 by a group that included former company CEO Jack Dorsey. It is headquartered in San Francisco.
“Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important,” current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted Monday.
Dorsey tweeted that “Elon’s goal of creating a platform that is `maximally trusted and broadly inclusive’ is the right one. This is also @paraga’s goal, and why I chose him.
“Thank you both for getting the company out of an impossible situation. This is the right path…I believe it with all my heart.”
@Paraga is Agrawal’s Twitter handle.
Asked about the ramifications of the deal, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki decline to comment on the specifics of the transaction, but said President Joe Biden maintains concerns about the ability of social media platforms spreading misinformation.
“No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms, … the power they have over our everyday lives,” she said.
“(Biden) has long argued that tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms they cause. He has been a strong supporter of fundamental reforms to achieve that goal, including reforms to Section 230, enacting antitrust reforms, requiring more transparency and more. And he’s encouraged that there’s bipartisan interest in Congress.
“In terms of what hypothetical policies might happen, I’m just not going to speak to that at this point in time.”