Twitter is kind of infamous, at this point. Countless people have built or ended their careers with a tweet. Lately, Elon Musk has been using Twitter to negotiate his deal with, well, Twitter.
The SpaceX CEO, who is worth an estimated $218 billion, has made headlines for several reasons. Not only did Elon Musk agree to purchase Twitter — which would take the publicly traded company private — he has already shared plans to make big changes.
Who is Elon Musk?
At the age of 50, business mogul Elon Musk has earned quite a reputation after decades of success in various industries. Still, you may be wondering, who is this guy? What does he want with a platform like Twitter?
Elon Musk is a South-African-born serial entrepreneur who sold his first software program when he was only 12 years old. When he got older, he migrated to the United States to attend the University of Pennsylvania. There, he obtained degrees in both business and physics.
Having taught himself to program computers at the young age of 10, Elon Musk has unsurprisingly had an affinity for digital companies since the beginning. After graduating college, he went on to co-create numerous companies, including the financial services company now known as PayPal.
In 2002, he founded one of his most groundbreaking companies, SpaceX, a U.S.-based aerospace manufacturer company. The boundary-breaking company, 20 years later, just launched the first private mission to the International Space Station.
Perhaps one of his most well-known ventures is Tesla, Inc. The electric vehicles manufacturing company appointed Elon Musk as chairman and product architect in 2004, and he later assumed the role of CEO which he still holds today.
Elon Musk Tweet: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1525049369552048129
Did Elon Musk Buy Twitter?
Our story began in late April 2022 when Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter Inc. for $44 billion — that’s about $54.20 per share. The acquisition marks the second-largest in history, according to Newsweek.
News of the planned acquisition triggered an onslaught of tweets, news reports, and interviews about the future of one of the world’s largest social media apps. Negotiations are still ongoing but some of Musk’s own comments, and the depreciation of Twitter, have instigated doubts over whether the deal will continue as planned.
The biggest concern revolves around the true number of fake Twitter accounts, known as bots, compared to the company’s estimated number of bots on the platform. Although there are countless authentic accounts, the app has been plagued with a yet unknown number of bots.
On May 17, 2022 Elon Musk tweeted a statement claiming that the buyout is “temporarily on hold” until he can get more details about the bot matter. In the tweet, Musk shared a link to a Reuters article that highlighted Twitter’s claim that bots only make up 5% of all accounts. The company has admitted that the actual percentage could be higher.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 19, 2022
Later that day, Elon Musk tweeted a casual poll asking Twitter users to share their experiences. More than 1.5 million people responded by May 19, though the poll’s responses were all just poking fun at the situation.
Despite the digital ruckus, Elon Musk also tweeted that he still intends to move forward with the acquisition, which he could not easily abandon.
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So, What’s up With the Elon Musk Twitter Deal?
While some have speculated that Elon Musk’s comments on Twitter could signal his intent to back out of the deal, there is a lot on the line. To be precise, a breakup fee of $1 billion has been attached to this deal.
Twitter signed a merger agreement with Elon Musk which establishes the conditions of the buyout, including the breakup fee. The agreement includes specific stipulations that would make it legally complicated for either Elon Musk or Twitter to back out of the deal. Still, Elon Musk has placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of his question regarding fake accounts. Not only that, Twitter’s market value has fallen considerably since the agreement was signed.
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Twitter, Elongate, and Other Musk Drama
Since the deal between Elon Musk and Twitter was announced in April, Twitter’s stock market value has dropped considerably from $54.20 per share to about $46 per share. That places Twitter’s current assessed value about $9 billion below the price Musk agreed to pay.
All this comes at the same time as other ventures, and Elon Musk himself, have been under pressure. At the start of May 2022 Tesla, Inc. was removed from S&P 500’s ESG Index. ESG stands for “environmental, social, and governance issues.”
Relying on Twitter again, CEO Musk derided the choice. He stated in a tweet: “Exxon is rated top ten best in [the] world for environment, social & governance (ESG) by S&P 500, while Tesla didn’t make the list! ESG is a scam.”
While the ESG debacle may or may not impact Tesla’s value, recent sexual harassment accusations have cast a shadow on SpaceX and the man behind it all.
According to one report, a SpaceX flight attendant alleges that Elon Musk propositioned her for sex after exposing himself to her. The witness quoted in the article claims that the company paid the flight attendant $250K to keep quiet.
Elon Musk has denied these accusations. In a series of tweets, the SpaceX CEO stated his belief that these claims, and the ESG index changes, were politically motivated “attacks.” He even made light of the accusations in another tweet: “Finally, we get to use Elongate as [a] scandal name.”
The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens – this is their standard (despicable) playbook – but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2022
What would Elon Musk’s Twitter Look Like?
The future of Elon Musk’s reputation remains to be seen. The future of Twitter, however, is a bit more predictable. The company has already implemented numerous changes within the last year, including Twitter super follows.
Read more about super follows and how they might change your marketing here.
Here are some of the changes Elon Musk has proposed to make to Twitter, once he has full ownership of the app:
- Eliminate certain content restrictions to uphold his own values on free speech. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy,” Musk told NPR, “and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” This may include:
- Restrictions on COVID-19 misinformation
- Bans on tweets that threaten physical violence
- Bans on tweets that are considered “harassment”
- Create an edit button so people can change tweets after they’ve posted
- Eliminate advertisements and move to a subscription model, although Musk stated in a tweet that the app would “always be free for casual users” and that subscription fees would only apply for commercial or government users
- Eliminate spam bots and “authenticate all humans”
- Make Twitter’s algorithm open-source, possibly by placing the code on a site like GitHub where it could be viewed by anyone
Some of Elon Musk’s proposed changes would have major implications for the way Twitter users are able to interact. Not everyone is excited about the potential.
Where Social Media Meets Politics
Twitter conversations surrounding the Elon Musk Twitter deal have been mixed. It seems like users haven’t been this wary of the app since the great Twitter Hack of 2020.
Some argue that privatizing Twitter would be a mistake, potentially jeopardizing users’ freedom of speech on the app. Still more warn that Musk’s changes would have adverse effects for app users, including potential political consequences. Others, still, have rallied behind the deal and the potential changes.
Elon Musk has tweeted criticisms about Twitter’s algorithm, which curates content based on user biases, and the ban of Donald Trump, which he’s called a “mistake.” Musk has also tweeted that he intends to support the Republican party going forward, calling the Democratic party “the party of division & hate.”
In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party.
But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican.
Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold … 🍿
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 18, 2022
According to even more tweets, Elon Musk charges Twitter with demonstrating a “left-wing” bias, thus far. He added that to gain “public trust” Twitter would need to be “politically neutral.”
Drama and politics aside, the proposed changes that Elon Musk might put into effect would change the Twitter landscape in ways that would directly affect influencers and marketing professionals. The elimination of Twitter ad space or the implementation of subscription fees, for example, could change the way businesses use the app.
Some may choose to flee the nest. Others may find a new and engaging network on a post-Elon-Musk-Twitter. One thing is certain: Musk’s Twitter acquisition is a historic shift, and we should all stay tuned.