Elon Musk landed a deal on Monday evening to buy out Twitter and take it private for a whopping US$44 billion. That’s not just loose change, even for the world’s richest man.
Investors will get US$54.20 for each share of the company that they own, which is a 38% jump from the price of Twitter stock the last business day before Elon announced he’d bought stock.
As for the question of what’s next with Twitter, it seems so far that the answer lies with Musk and with him alone. But the Twitter board has said that they think this deal “is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.” The White House doesn’t seem too happy, though, saying that while they won’t comment on an individual transaction, social media platforms have too much power.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement announcing the deal. “Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
The board “conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” said the board’s chairman, Bret Taylor. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal sent a company-wide email to employees scheduling a 2 p.m. (PT) meeting about the deal. “I know this is a significant change and you’re likely processing what this means for you and Twitter’s future,” he wrote.
“Regardless of who owns Twitter, the company has human rights responsibilities to respect the rights of people around the world who rely on the platform. Changes to its policies, features, and algorithms, big and small, can have disproportionate and sometimes devastating impacts, including offline violence,” said Deborah Brown, a digital rights researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch. “Freedom of expression is not an absolute right, which is why Twitter needs to invest in efforts to keep its most vulnerable users safe on the platform,” she added.
“Our concerns are not new,” said White House spokesperson Jen Psaki. “The president has long talked about his concerns about the power of social media platforms, including Twitter and others, to spread misinformation.” But, Psaki said she wouldn’t comment on an individual transaction.
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