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Elon Musk Becomes Twitter’s Largest Shareholder, Joins Board After Purchasing 9% Stake [UPDATED]

Twitter's stock price soared at the news

elon musk buys stake twitter largest shareholder social media tesla spacex
Elon Musk, photo by Patrick Pleul/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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    Elon Musk has become Twitter’s largest shareholder after purchasing 9.2% of the social media platform for about $2.89 billion.

    The news became public on Monday, April 4th in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk’s 9.2% stake outpaces the investment firm Vanguard’s 8.8% ownership share, while far overshadowing the 2.3% stake of Twitter’s former chief executive Jack Dorsey.

    The SEC filing is dated March 15th. Since then, Twitter’s stock price has risen almost 50%, including over 28% just today (as of 1:00 p.m. ET), as Musk’s many fans have celebrated his purchase by throwing their money at his latest business venture. While Twitter has at times struggled with profitability, so far this investment has made the world’s richest man even richer. Musk is thought to be worth over $270 billion.

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    Update — April 5th: Musk has been appointed to the Twitter board by CEO Parag Agrawal, who wrote in a post, “He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!” In response, Musk tweeted: “Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months.”

    However, as Reuters points out, the appointment will potentially block chances of a takeover bid from Musk as he cannot own more than 14.9% of Twitter’s stock either as an individual shareholder or as a member of a group as long as he is on the company’s board.

    Musk definitely has ideas for Twitter. Last month, he suggested in a series of tweets that the company has failed to uphold principles of free speech — even if he has sometimes struggled to live up to those ideals himself. He also suggested that a new social media company might be needed, though as the SEC filing makes clear, he had already purchased the Twitter shares at the time.

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    One of his ideas that may have support on the Twitter board is moving the platform to an open-source network. Former Twitter CEO Dorsey responded to one of Musk’s tweets on the subject, writing, “The choice of which algorithm to use (or not) should be open to everyone.” However, Dorsey is expected to leave the Twitter board next month.

    Musk is also a strong proponent of adding an “edit” feature to published tweets. He again teased such a feature on Monday by polling his followers whether they “want an edit button.” As of publication, more than 73% voted in favor of the feature.

    Musk has long been a user of Twitter, which has sometimes presented governance problems for his other companies like Tesla and SpaceX. In 2018, the SEC sued Musk for fraud after he tweeted that he intended to take Tesla private at $420 a share, a price point he admitted had been chosen because his then-partner Grimes would think it was funny. After he and Grimes broke up last year, and reports emerged that she had begun a new relationship with Chelsea Manning, Musk tweeted out a transphobic meme. He has also recently used the platform to compare Justin Trudeau to Hitler and challenge Vladimir Putin to a fight.

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