SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter.
Musk is already Twitter Inc.’s biggest shareholder, owning more than 9 percent of Twitter’s stock. Twitter announced on Thursday that Musk put in an offer to buy its remaining shares, paying $54.20 per share.
That’s estimated to be worth about $43 billion, and Musk is offering to pay in cash.
Musk describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” and he recently criticized Twitter for failing to uphold freedom of speech principals.
Musk wrote in a regulatory filing, “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.”
“However, 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,” Musk wrote.
California State University East Bay communications professor Nolan Higdon said he does not foresee many changes for Twitter if Musk takes over.
“The story is less about Musk, and more about how wealthy oligarchs can bid over the public’s communication,” Higdon said.
“Elon exemplifies a Silicon Valley attitude. You make big promises, the future is in your hands, you talk all about yourself, and he’s really good at branding himself with outlandish behavior,” Higdon said.
Musk is one of the most popular voices on Twitter with more than 81 million followers.
When asked how Twitter’s current leadership compares to Meta’s Facebook and Instagram leaders, Higdon said, “I give all of these companies an ‘F’ on their report card. The power is in the hands of these tech giants. Their profit model, keeping users engaged, always outweighs the common good.”
“These are very wealthy companies that position themselves as do-gooders of democracy. But in reality, nothing is free,” Higdon said.
Musk said his offer to buy Twitter is also his “final” offer.
“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 wrote to the company.
Thursday’s developments are happening in the wake of Musk declining an offer from Twitter to serve on its board of directors. Twitter offered Musk a seat on the board on the condition that he cannot own more than 14.9 percent of the company’s stock.
Higdon said it’s possible that Musk, who also owns SpaceX, declined to protect his financial privacy.
“I would assume he realized all of his finances would have to be reported to the company. There is a degree of transparency that would have been reported,” Higdon said.
Twitter Inc. said Musk’s $43-billion offer was unsolicited.
“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,” Twitter Inc. wrote in a statement.
Musk could have his eyes on Twitter as a potentially lucrative investment, or he could have noninvestment reasons, such as ensuring the platform doesn’t restrict his speech, said Erik Gordon, a law and business professor at the University of Michigan.
Just last month, Musk told his followers that he was “giving serious thought” to creating his own social media platform.