Elon Musk has agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion in a deal that will give the world’s richest man control of a social media platform with over 200 million members.
The sale will put Tesla’s CEO in command of a firm he has regularly chastised, alleging it has not lived up to its potential as a “free speech” platform.
The deal was announced on Monday, following a tumultuous few weeks of uncertainty over Twitter’s future, which was sparked by Musk’s emergence as the platform’s largest single shareholder on April 4th. On April 14, he announced a takeover bid, asking $54.20 per share for all of Twitter’s shares.
At first, Twitter’s board of directors appeared to be against it, imposing a poison pill anti-takeover policy that could have made a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive. After Musk disclosed a finance plan for the deal – comprising $21 billion of his own money, as well as loan funding from Morgan Stanley and other financial institutions – and shareholders warmed up to it, its initial reluctance to support a transaction seemed to disappear.
“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 posted to Twitter. “Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and users to unlock it,” he added.
The acquisition was unanimously authorised by Twitter’s board of directors, and it was expected to close in 2022, assuming regulatory approval and shareholder approval. There are 217 million daily active users on the platform.
“Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world,” Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, said in a tweet confirming the sale. “Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”
Employees at Twitter were taken aback by Musk’s takeover, which was unexpected and contentious. Following the announcement of the purchase, Agrawal told employees at an all-hands meeting on Monday that the social network’s future course was uncertain.