The short: Elon Musk joined Twitter’s board after netting a 9.2% stake – making him Twitter’s largest shareholder.
A series of unfortunate events:
Twitter has had a dramatic year. First, Jack Dorsey announced his exit from Twitter to focus on Bitcoin. Then, new CEO Parag Agrawal took over with a dramatic re-org leading to high-profile departures
. Finally, Elon Musk showed up and bought a majority stake just when we thought the tide was over.
According to SEC filings, Musk had acquired a stake in Twitter weeks before asking
his 81 million Twitter followers if they considered the platform a champion of free speech.
However, his failure to publicly disclose he had acquired a majority in Twitter early enough could cost him about $100,000 in SEC fines – but he’s worth $288 billion, so no biggie.
Sneaky moves: Musk had been actively buying shares on a daily basis since January, with the largest purchase of 4.8 million shares in February. By April 1st, Musk had grossed 73 million worth of Twitter shares, consolidating his power as an active investor. But what does this mean for Twitter’s future?
The play: Before disclosing his purchase, he mused about launching a new social media platform. But, given Trump’s poor luck in launching Truth Social, we now know it’s way easier to alter an existing platform than to create a new one.
Musk’s presence on the board could significantly influence Twitter’s content policies given his recent online remarks. In the past, Twitter’s content policies have led to the public exile of users like Donald Trump and other controversial figures. Industry pundits predict that Musk’s stance on free speech might result in Twitter refiguring its content policies to allow for more free expression – which could re-admit the crazies and isolate a percentage of its current users.
Twitter is not exactly the beacon of great content policies. I wrote about its hate speech problem
a few weeks ago, so if Musk’s board seat influences its current policies, Agrawal would be spending a lot of time having tough conversations at Congress.
New product experimentation: Musk is already playing around with introducing an edit button – a feature Twitter users have been requesting for ages. If launched, it would give users the ability to edit published tweets.
I’m pro-no-edit button and would campaign for that with my dying breath. I understand most social media platforms come with edit buttons, but it’s a different ball game on Twitter. It’s a landmine out here. An edit button strips off accountability, and if you thought misinformation was a problem on Twitter, wait till an edit button becomes a thing.
Final thoughts: Twitter’s stock price soaring over 27% after Musk’s announcement was pleasing to my portfolio’s ego – it’s the most action my Twitter shares have seen.
On a serious note, Elon Musk’s new power at Twitter comes with great responsibility, and I hope the 11 members on Twitter’s board don’t roll over while Musk disrupts the company – or at least, his presence on the board doesn’t lay foundation for Trump’s return to the platform.