The acquisition of Twitter by the richest person on earth has dominated the headlines for the best part of 2022’s April.
The hostile courtship between Musk and Twitter and the entirety of the nature of the buyout has raised eyebrows. On April 14th 2022, Musk bought 9.1% of Twitter for $2.64 billion. He became the biggest shareholder. A week later, the board of directors invited him to join the board. Musk seemed amenable to it. A few days later, he was nonplus and reluctant to join the board. He explained that he valued free speech and in Twitter’s current state free speech would not thrive nor serve the agenda.
This then developed into an all-out buyout war. The Twitter board proposed using the “poison pill”, a strategy to prevent a total buyout and privatization. Then on April 25th, it was reported that Twitter’s board had unanimously accepted an offer for $44 Billion. This meant the process of privatizing the company had commenced.
This tag of war has had a lot of people questioning Musk’s motive in acquiring the company. Some members on the platform have even threatened to cease using it. Is the motive to make more billions from it? Is the motive to inhibit/control the free speech he has claimed to defend?
Former C.E.O Jack Dorsey tweeted the same day of the agreement, saying, “In principle, I don’t believe anyone should own or run Twitter. It wants to be a public good at protocol level, not a company. Solving for the problem of it being a company, however, Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.” A statement which could be interpreted as a blessing from the former Twitter boss.
Billionaires and Media Companies
Billionaires owning media/publishing companies is not a new occurrence. Rupert Murdoch owns hundreds of publishing outlets in the US and internationally, most notably Fox and Sky News, Michael Bloomberg has made a fortune from publishing through his co-founded news and information outlet Bloomberg L.P.
Although it didn’t break the internet like the Twitter acquisition, back in 2013, Jeff Bezos, Amazon C.E.O bought the New York Post. Through his leadership that focused on the Post’s economic side and through a technological approach was able to double its web traffic within 4 years reviving an almost dying media giant. Another recent and notable buyout is the Meredith Corporation by the mogul couple, Marc and Lynne Benioff.
Apart from the obvious reason that billionaires can buy media companies because they can, plain and simple, why else would a billionaire or anyone want to buy a media company? And why does Elon Musk want Twitter?
On TedTalk 2022 Elon Musk did hint he wasn’t sure if he would be able to acquire and privatize the company but did state his acquisition of the company was not to profit off of it. He said,”… it’s just that I think my strong, intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive, is extremely important to the future of civilization.”
With that statement and a tweet from May 6th that reads, “If Twitter acquisition completes, company will be super focused on hardcore software engineering, design, infosec & server hardware,” it is clear Elon Musk wants to have publishing control which is and will be a very powerful tool in the world’s future which will be run by tech, a field Musk is an expert.
Elon Musk has the ability to buy a lot of the already established social media platforms. With his finances, Musk has the ability to start his own platform. So why Twitter?
The social media platform, Twitter, was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. The platform was listed in the top 10 most visited websites and boasted over 2 billion search queries a day in 2016. The first reason for wanting to buy Twitter might be that it is already established and successful.
Moreover, the platform has been credited by many for the success of US presidential candidates and 2 term president Barak Obama and Donald J. Trump’s first term win in 2016. Obama is the first president to campaign via the new social media platforms which garnered him global popularity and also the first to directly engage with citizens/followers on social media platforms while in office. Even he has admitted how vital a role Twitter played in getting his message across to the nation.
Trump was banned from Twitter which raised a lot of controversy due to his alleged callous and irresponsible tweets. The former US president however had a lot of engagement on the platform during campaigns and while in office. This shows just how powerful Twitter is as a tool in politics. Trump has even launched his own social media platform, Truth Social, through Trump Media and the site is very similar to Twitter. This is evidence of just how much he values social engagement in his attempt to run for a second term in office.
The president of the United States of America is dubbed the most powerful man on the planet. Among all the other social media platforms Twitter gets the most credit as a president maker. It is fair to assume the richest person on earth also wants to be the most powerful person on earth and owning Twitter is just the first step to making sure he has control.
Elon Musk may not necessarily be after the presidency but it is obvious he has seen the amount of potential and influence the platform has.
In the words of Tony Montana from Scarface, “In this country, you got to make the money first, then when you get the money you get the power. Then when you get the power then you get the women.” The latter part of the statement might be irrelevant but Elon Musk has the money and might be now going after the power, a feat that Twitter has proven it can assist in achieving. Imagine one man owning a platform that got two United States presidents elected.