11 April 2022

Bloomberg: “Elon Musk Bought Some Twitter”

Look this all makes complete sense, obvious, intuitive, simple sense. If you are the richest person in the world, and annoying, and you constantly play a computer game, and you get a lot of enjoyment and a sense of identity from that game and are maybe a little addicted, then at some point you might have some suggestions for improvements in the game. So you might leave comments and email the company that makes the game saying “hey you should try my ideas”. And the company might ignore you (or respond politely but not move fast enough for your liking). It might occur to you: “Look, I am the richest person in the world; how much could this game company possibly cost? I should just buy it and change the game however I want.” Even if your complaints are quite minor, why shouldn’t you get to play exactly the game you want? Even if you have no complaints, why not own the game you love, just to make sure it continues to be exactly what you want? The game is Twitter, the richest person in the world is Elon Musk, and:

Elon Musk has taken a 9.2% stake in Twitter Inc. to become the platform’s biggest shareholder, a week after hinting he might shake up the social media industry.

Matt Levine

I read this news last week with a sense of dread, fully expecting Elon Musk to come in guns blazing and pressure Twitter to match his wild random ideas about how the platform should operate. The story quickly became crazier still, from Musk doing some sneaky stock market manipulation by delaying to file a form, to Twitter offering him a seat on the board in exchange for a limit on his stake in the company, to Musk announcing today that he will not be joining the board after all…

Elon bumped the stock, but he’s also likely removed any takeover premium. His antics and wealth make him a human poison pill — neither a financial buyer nor a strategic acquirer wants to deal with the chaos and unpredictable behavior he brings. And Elon himself signed away his right to buy more when he joined the board. The market sensed these issues and, after its initial explosive gains, the stock began to check back.

Scott Galloway

Twitter was never in great shape as a business, and the constant drama and toxicity associated with Elon Musk’s involvement will probably hinder it further. My only hope is that Musk simply gets bored of this new toy after playing yo-yo with its stock price for a while, then moves on to other distractions. The (horrible) alternative would be for him to do a hostile takeover and start screwing with the product to fit his selfish needs and implement his personal flavor of ‘free speech’ (on Musk-Twitter you’re free to say anything you want as long as you don’t criticize or contradict the Elon-overlord). I fear that Twitter will soon become unrecognizable, with its better aspects whittled down to nothing and its bad side amplified. And I for one am sick and tired of American billionaires fucking things up just because they are rich and assume they’re entitled to get whatever they want!

The Musk roller coaster of volatility
The Musk roller coaster of volatility. Scott Galloway

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