Sunday, May 22

Elon Musk launches a political and economic takeover on Twitter

Already the largest shareholder in the social network, the whimsical founder of Tesla and SpaceX announced Thursday a takeover bid to acquire Twitter and take it off the stock market. His motives are questionable.

54.20 dollars. That’s the very serious amount at which Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter’s shares… But it’s also a nod to cannabis, nicknamed “4/20” in American slang, in reference to the habit of smoking joints at 4:20 in the afternoon. As is often the case with the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, entrepreneurial flamboyance rubs shoulders with potty provocation, with a consummate art of counterpoint. The surprise takeover bid, launched on Thursday 14 April by the richest man in the world, has plunged the business and media world – and Twitter – into a moment of surreal excitement. The hostile capitalist move is all the more speculative because it has an important political dimension as well as an economic one.

Twitter “will not thrive or fulfill its societal mission [of free speech] in its current form,” Musk explained in a letter to the board. Before launching, with his usual aplomb: “Twitter has enormous potential. I’m going to make it happen.”

The price proposed by Elon Musk in his takeover bid values the company, of which he already owns 9% of the capital, at $46 billion (42.3 billion euros). The buyer is therefore ready to pay a “premium”, i.e. a 21% increase compared to the opening price of the share on Thursday, and 54% compared to that of January 28, when he quietly began to invest in Twitter, until becoming its first shareholder. This low-key raid was revealed on April 4 in documents from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Caught off guard, Twitter executives then offered the new shareholder a seat on the board of directors, before he refused on April 11 in a new twist. This was probably a tactic to have a freer hand legally.

“I do not play the classic game of back and forth,” preferring to “go straight to the point,” Elon Musk explained today to the board of directors, in his letter announcing his unfriendly takeover. In the wake of this, the social network announced that it would “carefully review” the offer. Translated with (free version)