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Monday, August 15, 2022

Founder and CEO Elon Musk has become the biggest stakeholder in the social media company Twitter

This week, Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and the world’s wealthiest person, purchased a nearly 10% stake in Twitter, the social media platform where he has more than 80 million followers and where he shares everything from business ideas and memes to his experience at a famous Berlin nightclub, which he shared this past weekend.

The transaction, which was made public on Monday in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is valued at about $2.89 billion based on the closing price of Twitter’s shares on Friday, according to the filing. The announcement of Mr. Musk’s investment sent Twitter’s stock prices surging.

A spokeswoman for Twitter did not immediately reply to inquiries seeking comment on the situation.

Mr. Musk has become Twitter’s biggest stakeholder with his acquisition of 9.2 percent of the firm, making him the company’s second-largest shareholder. In recent weeks, he has attacked the firm for failing, in his opinion, to adhere to free speech values, and he has shown an interest in launching his own social network, which would be open source and free to all users. It has also led him into difficulty because of his lengthy and convoluted personal connection with the platform, with his tweets regarding Tesla’s finances leading to legal wranglings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former chief executive who stepped down late last year, endorsed several of Mr. Musk’s proposals, such as shifting the company to an open-source network.

The details of Mr. Musk’s objectives beyond his huge ownership position remain unknown, as is the possibility of him asking to join Twitter’s board of directors — or being invited — in the future. As stated in a securities filing filed by Mr. Musk, he intended for the investment to be passive, which means he does not aim to seek control of the firm. However, according to today’s DealBook newsletter, there was talk on Monday that he would modify the status of his investment, continue purchasing shares, or even attempt to purchase the firm altogether if the current situation does not improve.

In the event that Mr. Musk pushes for change, he would not be the first disgruntled shareholder that the firm has had to deal with in recent years. Elliott Management, an activist group, took a stance on Twitter and advocated for Mr. Dorsey to be fired by the company in 2020. Later, it reached an agreement with Twitter that included a $1 billion investment from the private equity company Silver Lake as well as the appointment of new board members, including Egon Durban, co-chief executive of the private equity firm. During Mr. Musk’s attempts to take Tesla private, Silver Lake collaborated with him.

Mr. Musk has a broad list of previous commercial projects in his resume: Apart from Tesla, Musk is also the chief executive of the rocket business SpaceX and the creator of The Boring Company, which provides tunnel building services. It is possible that adding another job to the list may annoy Tesla stockholders. Executives who have juggled media undertakings with other private ventures have found themselves in the crosshairs of legislators as well. President Donald J. Trump had a negative opinion of Amazon because he disagreed with coverage in The Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos controlled independently from Amazon.

It is possible that Mr. Musk will benefit from the investment, notwithstanding any potential opposition to it. According to the paperwork describing Mr. Musk’s shareholding, it was worth around $3 billion at the time of Friday’s closing price. It was published on March 14th, and Twitter’s stock has risen by around 50% since then.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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