Elon Musk completes $44bn Twitter deal

World's richest man reportedly fires several top executives at the social media company

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks before unveiling the Model Y at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, California. AP Photo
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Elon Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Thursday after tumultuous months of back and forth during which the billionaire questioned the actual numbers of users on the social media platform but finally gave in as a drawn-out litigation process neared.

The closing of the deal was reported by various media citing sources and investors. However, no official announcement or regulatory filing has yet to indicate that the agreement has been finalised.

The New York Stock Exchange told investors it would suspend trading in Twitter shares before Friday's opening bell in anticipation of the deal's completion.

Mr Musk, who is the world's richest man with 110 million Twitter followers, and the platform were given until October 28 by a US judge to finalise the deal, which has dragged on since April when the Tesla chief executive offered to buy the microblogging platform at $54.20.

He tried to walk away from the deal in May after accusing the social media company of understating the number of bot and fake accounts on the platform, which started a series of lawsuits between the two parties.

The social media company sued the billionaire, alleging that he had refused “to honour his obligations to Twitter and its stockholders because the deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests”.

A court filing in May showed that 5 per cent of Twitter's 229 million users were bots. Mr Musk has vowed to “defeat the spam bots” upon closing the deal.

Mr Musk, who had a net worth of about $212bn as of October 28, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, retweeted a picture of him at the coffee bar inside the company's San Francisco headquarters, surrounded by its staff.

Amid the media reports about the closure of the deal, he tweeted that "the bird is freed".

Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal and finance chief Ned Segal left the company and will not be returning, CNBC reported, citing sources. Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal policy, trust and safety, was reportedly fired, the Washington Post reported.

Mr Musk plans to be chief executive at Twitter and intends to lift permanent bans on users because he doesn’t believe in lifelong prohibitions, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. That could pave the way for the return of former president Donald Trump to the social media platform.

In a separate message earlier in the day on Thursday, Mr Musk appeared to want to ease potential unease of advertisers and explained why he bought the company and his plans for it.

“There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Most of it has been wrong,” he tweeted.

He said he bought Twitter because he believed it was “important to the future of civilisation to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner without resorting to violence”.

“There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far-right-wing and far-left-wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society,” Mr Musk said.

“In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fuelled and catered to those polarised extremes as they believe that is what brings in the money but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost.”

He said he did not buy the company because “it would be easy” or to make more money.

“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences! Advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain and inform you; it can show you a service or a product or a medical treatment that you never knew existed, but is right for you,” he said.

“For this to be true, it is essential to show Twitter users advertising that is relevant as possible to their needs. Low relevancy ads are spam but highly relevant ads are actually content!”

Mr Musk concluded by saying the social media company plans to be the “most respected advertising platform in the world … to everyone who has partnered with us, I thank you. Let us build something extraordinary together”.

Updated: October 28, 2022, 12:03 PM
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