Elon Musk has launched a $41 billion bid to buy Twitter, saying the proposed deal is part of his plan to bring “free speech around the globe.”
Musk’s offer price of $54.20 per share, which comes just days after he rejected a seat on the social media company’s board, represents a 38% premium to Twitter’s April 1 close, the last trading day before the Tesla CEO’s more than 9% stake in the company was made public.
Twitter’s shares jumped 12% in premarket trading.
“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk wrote in a letter to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor.
“Since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”
“My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” Musk said.
Musk’s takeout offer for Twitter caps a two-week stretch of taunts he has launched on the embattled social-media giant. Shortly after disclosing his stake, Musk immediately began teasing possible moves including converting Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter.
Musk also has suggested adding an edit button for tweets, suggested that Twitter might be “dying,” and even scrapping its business model, which relies on selling ads.
In a Thursday securities filing announcing his takeover offer, Musk used blunt language, telling the Twitter board: “I am not playing the back-and-forth game.”
“I have moved straight to the end,” the entrepreneur said. “It’s a high price and your shareholders will love it.”
Earlier this week, Musk said he had abandoned a plan to join Twitter’s board, just as his tenure was about to start. Taking the board seat would have prevented him from a possible takeover of the company.
Twitter said in a statement: “The Twitter Board of Directors will carefully review the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the Company and all Twitter stockholders.”
Analysts are predicting that Musk will ultimately succeed in his takeover bid.
“Musk previously had a 9.2% stake before the filing this morning and now ultimately we believe this soap opera will end with Musk owning Twitter after this aggressive hostile takeover of the company,” said Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities.
“It would be hard for any other bidders/consortium to emerge and the Twitter board will be forced likely to accept this bid and/or run an active process to sell Twitter.”
Musk’s potential takeover of Twitter has reportedly been a source of dread for employees of the company in recent days. It has also reportedly divided the company’s ranks, with some welcoming a takeover by “Daddy Elon” and others fearing Musk is a “racist demagogue,” according to reports.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal broke the news on his Twitter account earlier this week, describing Musk’s decision not to accept a seat on the board as “for the best” even as he warned workers they would face “distractions ahead,” Bloomberg reported.
The uncertainty left Twitter workers feeling “super stressed” about the future, with employees reportedly “working together to help each other get through the week.”
The report cited interviews with Twitter employees who asked not to be identified while discussing the company’s inner workings. Several employees told the outlet that Twitter’s internal environment was a “s–t-show” after Musk’s deal with the board fell through.
One Twitter employee griped that Musk was likely ‘just getting started” with pushing for change at the company – a development the worker described as “unfortunate,” according to Bloomberg.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO was invited to join the board one day after disclosing a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter earlier this month, becoming its largest shareholder.
Just days earlier, he publicly trashed the company, which he called “the de facto public town square,” for “failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy” and mulled launching his own social media platform.
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk asked users in a Twitter poll on March 28, in which over 70 percent of the 2 million voters responded “No.”
Musk — the richest person in the world with a fortune of more than $265 billion, according to Forbes — bought some 73.5 million shares of the company, worth an estimated $2.89 billion, according to an SEC filing.
The massive purchase may have violated federal law, according to financial experts. After the billionaire filed his disclosure forms, Twitter’s share price skyrocketed 30 percent.
Marc Bain Rasella, a Twitter shareholder, sued Musk for not disclosing his stake in the social media company soon enough.