Elon Musk’s private text messages reveal behind the scenes of Twitter takeover

With days to go before the Twitter v. Musk, several private conversations between the various actors in the case become public. Elon Musk has not yet testified, but some of his text messages are enough to better understand what happened.

“I wanted it for a long time. I was very moved when I learned that it was finally possible”. When Twitter announced the arrival of Elon Musk on its board of directors, Jack Dorsey, the company’s founder, could not contain his enthusiasm. In a message immediately sent to the boss of Tesla and SpaceX, he told him how much he believed in him. A few hours later, Elon Musk announced that he refused to join the board of directors. Instead, he said he wanted to buy the company, take it out of the stock market and make it the number 1 platform for free speech. Jack Dorsey still supported him.

The sequel is known. After signing an agreement with Twitter, Elon Musk changed his mind. On October 17, the Delaware Court of Justice will open the trial between the social network and the billionaire. The first wants to force redemption, after losing a lot of money. The second wants to get out, accusing the social network of having lied to him (which only moderately convinces the judge). Until that date, hundreds of confidential messages become public each day. Numerama consulted them to better understand the gears that motivated Elon Musk to buy Twitter, before changing his mind. We discover how spontaneous his decision seems to have been.

Did a joke give Elon Musk the idea?

If reading 40 pages of private text messages intrigues you, the Delaware Court has it all online. Otherwise, here is a quick summary of the different phases that Elon Musk went through.

Elon Musk Twitter posts
Text messages sent and received by Elon Musk are presented like this. These date from the day Elon Musk joined Twitter’s board of directors. // Source: Delaware Court of Justice

Did the takeover of Twitter start from a joke? On March 5, 2022, Elon Musk is having a conversation with his friends about being banned from Russia Today. He says he is shocked by this decision, even if RT says “ lots of bullshit, but also some real stuff “. In the name of American freedom of expression, he wants to defend the Russian channel, with the support of his friends, who we discover to be very generous in their compliments (“ You are 100% right Elon. », « I agree with you 100% Elon. »…). A few days later, one of them asks him a question: Can you take over Twitter and take it down, please? “. Elon Musk puts a thumbs up on the post and replies: “Perhaps, buy him back to change him and make him respect freedom of expression? »

Elon Musk as savior of Twitter

On March 26, Jack Dorsey enters the dance. “Yes, a new platform is needed. It doesn’t have to be a new business. That’s why I left. “. Quite cold (we quickly notice that Elon Musk has everyone at his feet, and that everyone admires him), the billionaire replies: “Okay, what should it look like? ». Jack Dorsey presents his idea for a decentralized open source protocol, without ads, to replace Twitter. He tells Elon Musk that he plans to create this competitor himself in May, once he leaves his company. Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey call each other to talk about this project, even though Elon Musk seems to believe there is still room to improve the existing Twitter.

We will pass over many dispensable messages. At the end of March, the idea is definitely in the head of Elon Musk. Several of his friends encouraged him to buy Twitter, he spoke with company officials and Elon Musk seemed absolutely convinced that he was going to save freedom of expression. Elon Musk talks a lot to Parag Agrawal, the CEO of Twitter, who does his best to listen to him.

Parag Agrawal tried to give importance to Elon Musk, before upsetting him. // Source: Google Cloud / YouTube

From partnership to takeover, on a whim

On April 5, Parag Agrawal asks Elon Musk if he can tweet that he nominates him to Twitter’s board of directors. The billionaire gives him his authorization, while Jack Dorsey congratulates him and thanks him for his investment. The next day, in private, he explains to his relatives in an amused tone: never wanted to join the board “. At that time, the small world of Twitter sees Elon Musk as a kind and dedicated person. He says yes to everything and seems like an ideal partner.

On April 9, everything degenerates. Politely, Parag Agrawal asks Elon Musk if he can stop publicly bashing Twitter. “You have the right to tweet ‘Is Twitter dying’ or whatever you want on Twitter, but it’s my responsibility to tell you that you’re not helping Twitter in the current situation. ». Annoyed, Elon Musk asks him a minute after what he did this week, implying that his job is fictitious, before telling him not to join the board of directors. “I’m going to make an offer to make Twitter private. » Well, it all starts from there. Elon Musk got offended. Parag asks if they can talk, but that conversation doesn’t seem to be happening.

In the days that followed, everyone close to Elon then reminded him how great he is and made dozens of proposals to transform Twitter. Some even take the opportunity to apply for the position of CEO in case the takeover really takes place. Elon Musk says yes to almost everyone by promising them important positions if his takeover offer is accepted. A few days later, under pressure, Twitter said yes. Elon Musk receives a “Thank you ❤️” of Jack Dorsey, always convinced by his friend who will help him in this task “critical for humanity”.

jack dorsey
Jack Dorsey. // Source: Flickr/CC/Ryan Lash / TED (cropped photo)

What happened next ? The text messages don’t really go any further (there are talks about the investment, but no tense exchange between Elon Musk and Twitter). We imagine that the trial will tell us more in the coming days. In the meantime, several documents reveal how Elon Musk’s teams came to the conclusion that Twitter was lying to them about the numbers, with some exchanges with the businessman inside.

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