What just happened? Most of the—often controversial—things Elon Musk says comes from his Twitter account, but it seems he’s not happy about the platform’s stance toward “free speech.” So what’s the world’s richest person to do? Buy a 9.2% stake in Twitter worth around $2.89 billion, sending the company’s share price soaring.
A 13G filing released today shows that on March 14, Musk purchased 73,486,938 Twitter shares, which represents a 9.2% passive stake in the company, of which he is now the largest shareholder.
Interestingly, the news comes around one week after Musk tweeted out a poll to his 80 million+ followers asking, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” The CEO wrote, “the consequences of this poll will be important” in a follow-up tweet.
Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.
Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2022
A day later, Musk tweeted that Twitter’s failure to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. He also questioned whether a new platform was needed. All the tweets came after Musk decided to purchase his stake in the company.
Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.
What should be done? https://t.co/aPS9ycji37
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2022
Twitter shares have jumped more than 25% in premarket trading. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told CNBC that “This eventually could lead to some sort of buyout.”
“This makes sense given what Musk has at least been talking about, at least from a social media perspective,” Ives added.
Musk has been up there with Donald Trump when it comes to getting into trouble for his controversial tweets. His “funding secured” post in 2018 that claimed he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share brought the wrath of the Securities and Exchange Commission and led to Tesla lawyers needing to pre-approve Musk’s Tweets. He also faced a lawsuit for calling the rescuer of a soccer team in Thailand a “pedo guy.” More recently, he used the platform to challenge Vladimir Putin to single combat to decide the future of Ukraine.