Twitter’s new to-do list
Good morning! Elon Musk is officially acquiring Twitter in a surprising but fitting conclusion to the Tesla CEO’s one-sided love story. What does Musk’s obsession mean for Twitter’s future? I’m Owen Thomas, and my reporting once prompted Tesla to update its S-1 filing with Elon Musk’s pending divorce as a risk factor. Hoo boy, was he mad about that one!
Elon ❤️ Twitter
You already know that Elon Musk has persuaded Twitter’s board to accept his $54.20 per share offer to take the company private. He did this not because he wants to make money — though his financiers will likely want and expect the investment to turn profitable. He did it because he loves Twitter.
He loves Twitter, and no one else loves Twitter quite as much as he does. That’s likely why the board felt pressured to accept his offer, because no alternative bidders emerged. Musk’s price is well below Twitter’s 52-week high, but the board would have to persuade Wall Street that it had a better plan for getting it back to those heights, and if it had one, it sure didn’t do much to air it.
The best way to understand what just happened with Twitter is to listen to a story about how Elon Musk wooed his first wife, Justine.
Elon Musk is nothing if not persistent. Here, we’ll let Justine tell you.
- “He invited me out for ice cream,” she recalled in a 2010 Marie Claire article reflecting on her divorce. “I said yes, but then blew him off with a note on my dorm-room door. Several hours later, my head bent over my Spanish text in an overheated room in the student center, I heard a polite cough behind me. Elon was smiling awkwardly, two chocolate-chip ice cream cones dripping down his hands. He's not a man who takes no for an answer.”
Musk is promising big changes for Twitter. He’s not very good with promises.
- It’s practically a sport now to document all the times Musk has made promises and not lived up to them.
- Outside of his businesses, Musk often takes up causes that strike his fancy. He once promised to make Flint’s drinking water safe for any affected home. He did end up donating water filtration systems to Flint’s school system. People are still debating whether he lived up to his commitment.
- Musk also promised to save children trapped in a cave in Thailand. Rescuers rejected his submarine proposal, but not before he baselessly smeared one of them as a pedophile.
So what happens now with the object of Musk’s affection?
- Hiring is going to be extremely challenging. The talent market in Silicon Valley is extremely liquid, and Twitter employees have options. Literally: A private Twitter will likely have to replace those stock awards with cash or equivalent compensation, Twitter’s general counsel told employees, according to The New York Times. Or they could just go elsewhere.
- A Musk-owned Twitter will likely have to dole out cash bonuses and higher salaries to retain and attract employees. Meta has to pay a premium for workers because of Mark Zuckerberg’s toxic reputation, recruiters say.
- The biggest risk, though, is that Musk gets bored. Heck, the deal could take six months to close, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and board chair Bret Taylor reportedly told employees. That’s an eternity for the mercurial Musk.
- And that’s where his lack of financial self-interest becomes the biggest problem. What if Musk stops loving Twitter? If he’s really in it for love, not money, as he’s said, then Twitter could end up with an absentee owner.
We’ll leave you with one final thought, from Musk. “I do love humanity,” he recently tweeted. This is why he keeps showing up with dripping ice cream cones at humanity’s doorstep. We know what we ought to do — but hey, ice cream.
People are talking
Truebill’s Haroon Mokhtarzada said the main reason people cancel their subscriptions is exactly what you’d think it is:
- “The most common reason is: ‘I am no longer using it anymore.’”
- "Elon’s goal of creating a platform that is 'maximally trusted and broadly inclusive' is the right one."
Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, questioned whether Musk’s deal gave China some grip on Twitter:
- “Probably not. The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter.”
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