How Elon Musk rocked Twitter in 7 days of chaos

For the past seven days, Elon Musk has been big news. But it is not Tesla, where he is CEO, that he is playing this time. Instead, he has been making waves around his recent investment in Twitter.

Last week’s news I had bought enough Twitter shares to become the company’s largest individual shareholder left viewers wondering how Musk, the outspoken tech mogul self-styled “absolutist of freedom of expression”, could try to change the address of the company, which has identified bullying Y disinformation as two of his moderation goals since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

True to form for the eccentric and bombastic Musk, the headlines didn’t end there. For seven days, Musk made big news with his statements and actions related to the company and his future. First, Musk seemed to confirm that he would join Twitter’s board of directors, but days later he and Twitter’s CEO reversed the decision with cryptic statements and tweets.

This is how the story has unfolded so far.

April 4: Musk reveals he has bought 9.2 percent of Twitter

On the morning of April 4, Musk sent a regulatory document to the Securities and Exchange Commission noting his purchase of Twitter stock. The filing said the purchase had been made on March 14, meaning Musk filed his filing 10 days late, according to SEC rules.

When news of the filing broke, tech industry figures speculated on how Musk could turn around the company as someone who had portrayed himself as a “passive investor.” People also began to review Musk’s recent statements on Twitter.

On March 24, Musk asked his followers if they thought Twitter adhered to the principle of free speech, then said, “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”

After unveiling his investment, Musk caused more of a stir when he tweeted asking his followers, “Want an edit button?” referring to a long-time feature request from Twitter users and which seems to indicate that he was interested in making changes to the platform.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal quoted and tweeted Musk’s poll on the edit button and copied his statement from March 24, writing: “The fallout from this poll will be significant. Please vote carefully.”

On Tuesday, Agrawal announced in a statement on Twitter that Musk had been given a seat on the board.

“Through conversations with Elon over the past few weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring tremendous value to our Board,” he wrote. “He is both a passionate believer and an intense critic of the service, which is exactly what we need.”

Musk responded by tweeting: “I look forward to working with Parag and the Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in the coming months!” Later that same day, Musk presented another presentation to the SEC indicating that it would take a more active role as an investor and that it had agreed not to buy more than 14.9 percent of the company. The more shares Musk owns, the easier it is for him to potentially orchestrate the direction of the company.

On the same day, Twitter board members, including co-founder Jack Dorsey, they tweeted their congratulations musky. “I am very happy to have Elon join the Twitter board,” Dorsey wrote. “She cares deeply about our world and Twitter’s role in it.”

Dorsey described Musk and Agrawal as a potential “team” that “both lead from the heart.” Omid Kordestani and Bret Taylor, two other members, also tweeted welcoming Musk to the board.

Twitter announces that it is working on an ‘edit’ button

After Musk’s “edit button” poll closed, more than 4.4 million accounts had voted, with 73.6 percent requesting the addition. On Wednesday, Twitter announced that had been working on a “since last year” edit button.

“No, we didn’t get the idea from a survey,” the company tweeted with a cheeky winking emoji.

Jay Sullivan, Twitter’s head of consumer products, noted in another tweet“Editing has been the most requested Twitter feature for many years.”

At the same time, Musk was tweeting memes about his alleged influence over Twitter, including one that made a link between Musk’s first big business move: “Sell Zip2 to Compaq for $305 million,” and Twitter “finally” getting an edit button. Zip2 was Musk’s first business venture, which he sold when he was in his early 20s. The domino meme he posted implies that Musk’s sale of the company and establishment of his entrepreneurial initiative was the first in a series of events that would eventually lead to Twitter adding the edit feature.

April 9: Musk asks if Twitter is dying

The weekend brought no slowdown for Musk.

On Saturday, Musk returned to his personal Twitter account with more quibbles about the company. “Twitter is dying?” he asked in a quote tweet that showed the 10 most followed Twitter users. “Most of these ‘main’ accounts tweet rarely and post very little content.”

Musk called out A-list artists Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, who are the sixth and second most followed people on Twitter, respectively.

“For example, @taylorswift13 hasn’t posted anything in 3 months,” Musk said. “And @justinbieber only posted once this whole year.”

Musk then pointed to offers from Twitter’s new subscription service, Twitter Blue, which costs $3 a month. Musk said he disabled Twitter Blue’s customizable feature that prevents a tweet from being sent immediately, giving users 20 seconds to reread and reconsider their tweets before posting.

Musk suggested that the Twitter Blue service should instead give your subscribers a verified checkmark, which currently requires a person working on Twitter’s verified team to approve it. Musk said they should be “different from the ‘public figure’ or ‘official account’ checkmarks.”

His idea would reduce the number of fake accounts and bots, Musk suggested.

“Now subtract the crypto scam accounts that Twitter shows as ‘real’ people in everyone’s feed.” musk wrote in a reply to another user.

Then Musk said that Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco should become a refuge for the homeless, “since no one shows up anyway.”

Musk also jokingly suggested that Twitter remove the letter “w” from his company to make it “giggles.” He even ran another poll to gauge interest.

Musk is known for his cheeky tweets, which are played for laughs but can land him and his companies in legal trouble. In September 2018, Musk settled with the SEC after he tweeted that he would take Tesla private at $420 per share, referring to the number associated with marijuana. The second loaded musk with securities fraud and accused Tesla of “failing to have required disclosure controls and procedures related to Musk’s tweets,” a charge Tesla settled.

Terms of the deal included Musk resigning as chairman of Tesla, requiring Tesla to hire additional independent directors and pay $40 million in penalties.

April 10th: Twitter CEO Says Musk Won’t Be Joining Board After All

On Sunday night, Agrawal announced in a statement on Twitter that Musk would not be joining Twitter’s board. He wrote that it was Musk’s decision.

“We also believed that having Elon as a company trustee where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interest of the company and all of our shareholders, was the best way forward,” Agrawal wrote.

Agrawal wrote that his Tuesday announcement had been “subject to a background check and formal acceptance” and that Musk was to have been officially appointed on Saturday morning.

“Elon shared earlier that morning that he will no longer be joining the board,” Agrawal wrote. “I think this is for the best.”

Agrawal and the other Twitter board members reversed their initial approval of Musk’s appointment sometime after Musk tweeted criticism of the company. After Agrawal announced that Musk would no longer sit on the board, Musk tweeted, then deleted, a laughing emoji.

That wasn’t the only tweet that seemed to refer to or directly criticize Twitter that Musk deleted. He also deleted several critical tweets he had posted since he filed his SEC filing on April 4, including several about Twitter Blue. Musk also deleted a tweet that showed a picture of him smoking weed on Joe Rogan’s podcast with the caption “The next Twitter board meeting will light up.”

Musk liked a tweet that speculated that he would not join the board because he could not criticize Twitter at the same time. “Let me explain this to you: Elon became the largest shareholder in Free Speech. Elon was told to play nice and not talk freely,” the tweet reads.

April 11: New filing says Musk may acquire more Twitter shares

In a presentation filed on Monday, Musk indicated that he may buy more shares of Twitter following his decision not to join the board. “Depending on the factors discussed in this document, the Reporting Person may, from time to time, acquire additional shares of Common Stock and/or retain and/or sell all or a portion of the shares of Common Stock held by the Company. Person reporting outdoors. market or in privately negotiated transactions”, reads the presentation.

The possibility could create a more hostile relationship between Twitter and Musk, according to analysts who spoke with CNBC Monday.

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