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THE MUSK IN THE ROOM

Twitter critic Elon Musk just became its largest shareholder

Elon Musk making a funny face
REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/File Photo
Elon Musk is well-known for his Twitter antics.
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Elon Musk is the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, and one of the world’s wealthiest people, but because of his online antics, he’s become synonymous with his Twitter account. Despite his heavy usage of the platform, he’s also been a staunch critic of Twitter, alleging recently that the company is “failing to adhere to free speech principles.”

Whether or not Twitter is the “public square,” as Musk described it, it is a publicly listed company, in which he bought a more than 9% stake on April 4, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Musk became its largest shareholder in the process.

In the era immediately after Jack Dorsey’s resignation as CEO, and after years of fighting off activist investor Elliott Management, Twitter has a new most important stakeholder on its hands—he’s both Twitter’s biggest fan and Twitter’s biggest critic.

Elon Musk’s Twitter troubles

Musk’s Twitter habits have gotten him in trouble with the law. The SEC has halted Tesla trading numerous times because of Musk’s tweets: Once he tweeted that Tesla’s stock price was too high, and then publicly threatened to take the auto manufacturer private.

In a settlement agreement with the Commission, Musk agreed to have Tesla-related tweets reviewed before publication by a lawyer, a so-called “Twitter sitter.” But now, Musk is fighting back against this review process in recent court filings.

In 2019, Musk prevailed in a defamation suit over tweets calling a British man who helped rescue 12 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand, a “pedo guy.”

Musk is also prone to tweeting off-color memes and jokes, once musing about starting a university called Texas Institute of Technology & Science, which abbreviates to TITS.

The most important man on Twitter

After Donald Trump’s public banishment from Twitter in January 2021, Elon Musk may be its most infamous user. But now, he is also the company’s most important shareholder.

Musk bought nearly 73.5 million shares of Twitter stock for close to $3 billion, good for 9.2% of the company’s outstanding shares. Prior to the deal, The Vanguard Group was the largest institutional shareholder with an 8.3% stake, along with Morgan Stanley, which had an 8.1% stake. With a 2.25% stake, Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO, was the largest individual stakeholder before Musk’s investment.

Twitter’s stock price climbed more than 20% in pre-market trading after the news broke.

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