how Elon Musk was convinced to buy Twitter

It all started with an ad that sounded like a joke…which could have been one all along. A valve to 43 billion dollars, all the same, which is not nothing, even for someone whose fortune is estimated at four times more.

On April 14, 2022 (13 days after Pisces Day, therefore), Elon Musk made an offer to buy Twitter, Inc.before going giving up just as thunderously early July, believing that the social network has “gave false and misleading information, on which [il] based on entering into the acquisition agreement”. Anger of Twitter, which for its part announced legal proceedings: the trial is due to open on October 17 before the Delaware Court of Justice.

It is in this context that several pieces of evidence have been made public, and especially

40 pages of private messages received and sent by Elon Musk himselfwhich show the sequence of discussions which gradually germinate in him the idea of ​​buying the social network, before suddenly changing his mind along the way.

“I’m 100% with you Elon”

Reading the messages in question is quite staggering, and shows in particular the levity of the businessman on multi-billion dollar decisions. But also the obsequiousness of part of his entourage and his interlocutorsand how badly Elon Musk takes any conversation that comes out of that admiring tone towards him.

It all starts with a decision by Twitter to suspend the account of the propaganda media Russia Today, which scandalizes the defender of absolute freedom of expression who claims to be Elon Musk. He says find RT “entertaining” (“full of bullshit, but also some good arguments”) and ensures that “freedom of expression is all the more important when it concerns someone you hate”. Opposite, the former director of Tesla Antonio Gracias says to himself “100% agree” with Elon Musk, “I’m 100% with you”, an attitude adopted by almost all the protagonists of the future takeover attempt.

Another interlocutor launches a joke that will quickly make its way into the mind of the billionaire. “Could you buy Twitter and then take it down?” Elon Musk seizes the ball at the leap: “Maybe rather redeem it, and change it to properly support free speech…” He also tweets on the subject, tweets which again earn him “I love what you just posted” from his interlocutors.

“Does he have huge amounts of money?”

Two days after, he discusses it with Jack Dorsey, the founder and former boss of Twitter. “Yes, a new platform is needed, it can’t be something managed by a company”, he says to Elon Musk. He thinks of a new open-source and decentralized system, without editorial control, “a bit like what Signal does” (the secure messaging application). When Elon Musk talks to him about “redirect Twitter in another direction”, he nods: “That’s probably the best option.” Jack Dorsey also assures him that Twitter’s board of directors was already hesitant to let the South African billionaire into the capital, but not him, who found this attitude “totally stupid and backward”.

The day after, Elon Musk is contacted collectively with representatives of Twitterincluding its current CEO Parag Agrawal. “Everyone is very enthusiastic about the idea of ​​you getting involved in the board of directors”, launches him Egon Durban, one of the big shareholders of Twitter. When someone in the conversation mentions (specifying “I don’t know if that’s what you have in mind”) a proposed takeover of Twitter by entrepreneur Samuel Bankman-Fried, Elon Musk quips: “Does he have huge amounts of money?” Another commenter bounces back: “Why don’t you buy Twitter? We’ll spin it for you, to establish a true platform for free speech.” Before flattering him again: “It would be a huge contribution to democracy.” “Interesting idea”responds Elon Musk. “I’m serious. It’s doable. It’s going to be fun.”

Elon Musk flattered then offended

Twitter boss Parag Agrawal also shows some enthusiasm (he welcomes the arrival of Elon Musk to the board of directors, extolling the merits of a “keen”which will bring “many things”, “exactly what we need at Twitter”). In private, he also reassures him when an article in the Washington Post mentions the concern of employees from Twitter regarding his arrival: “I think there’s a vast silent majority who are excited to have you on board, so [l’article] is not representative. It was predictable.” At the same time, Elon Musk is a little annoyed by his status in another conversation: “Owning 9% is not controlling [Twitter].”

At the beginning of April, Parag Agrawal, who spends a lot of time talking with (and especially listening to) Elon Musk, asks him if he can announce on Twitter that he is appointing him to the board. Elon Musk accepts, but in private, he mocks this announcement saying that he has “never wanted to join this board of directors”. Moreover, if he is affable with the leaders of Twitter in private, he does not hesitate to criticize the service … on Twitter.

A double talk that ends up annoying the CEO of the social network : “You can tweet ‘is twitter dying’ or whatever about us, but it’s my responsibility to tell you that doesn’t help us at all in the current context.” Elon Musk answers in a squeaky tone by asking him “what he accomplished this week” (implied: nothing). A minute later, it’s the sudden escalation: “I’m not joining the board. It’s a waste of time”, slice the billionaire. Visibly annoyed, he says to her: “I’m going to make an offer to make Twitter private.”

“I’d be willing to jump on a grenade for you”

still follow dozens of messages and proposals made by executives and employees to Elon Musk to improve Twitter (and at the same time, try to obtain the post of Parag Agrawal which they feel has fallen out of favor with their potential future owner), one of them even pushing servility to the point of to write : “I’d be willing to jump on a grenade for you”. Messages whose answers still give the impression that the boss of Tesla will say yes to everyone, and save the social network from the doldrums where he thinks he is.

The ax falls a few months after the end of the messages made public: Elon Musk abandons his idea of ​​​​repurchase, and accuses Twitter of having lied to him about the reality of the number of subscribers of the social network. The rest now belongs to justicewho will have to sort out, among these hundreds of messages, what corresponds to convictions and what is false pretense.

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