Elon Musk buys 9.2% stake in Twitter, sending shares of the social media company skyrocketing – Technology News, Firstpost

New York: Shares of Twitter soared after Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday disclosed a large stake in the social media company, which he criticized for its approach to speech rights.

Musk, who has more than 80 million followers on the microblogging platform, became its largest shareholder after buying 73.5 million shares or 9.2% of common stock, according to a securities filing.

The investment is worth about $2.9 billion based on Friday’s share price. Musk is currently the richest man in the world, with a net worth of $287.6 billion, according to Forbes.

The billionaire is a frequent Twitter user, regularly mixing inflammatory and controversial statements about issues or other public figures with whimsical or business-oriented remarks.

He has also repeatedly fallen out with federal securities regulators, who cracked down on his use of social media after an alleged effort to take Tesla private in 2018 failed.

Twitter shares soared after the announcement, rising 27.1% to $49.97.

“We would expect this passive participation to be just the beginning of broader conversations with Twitter’s board (and) management that could ultimately lead to active participation and (potentially) greater ownership. aggressive from Twitter,” analysts Daniel Ives and John Katsingris of Wedbush wrote in a note.

“Just Buy Twitter”

The disclosure of Musk’s involvement follows a recent poll launched by the billionaire to his supporters.

Saying that “free speech is essential to the functioning of a democracy,” Musk, who has spoken of the possibility of starting his own social media company, launched a Twitter survey on March 25 that asked, “Do you believe that Twitter strictly adheres to this principle?”

More than two million people voted in the poll, with more than 70% answering “no”.

“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto town square, failure to adhere to the principles of free speech fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?” he continued the next day. “Is a new platform needed? »

“Just buy Twitter,” was one of the first responses from tens of thousands of users.

American political conservatives have long complained that the platform censors right-wing voices, a claim the company denies.

Critics cite Twitter’s decision to ban Donald Trump for the role of the former US president in fomenting the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

Twitter has also occasionally punished Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Georgia congresswoman who repeatedly posted misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines for it.

Greene praised Musk’s investment on Twitter, tweeting “restored freedom of speech will allow us all to beat them.”

SEC Agreement

Musk cited the right to free speech as a driver of his effort to overturn a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that tightened his use of the social media platform following his tweet of August 2018 that funding was “secured” to take Tesla private.

The following month, Musk agreed to pay $20 million to settle SEC securities fraud charges over the claim and to institute new controls and procedures to oversee his communications.

But Musk’s lawyers have asked a federal court to overturn the deal, saying the agency has conducted “countless baseless investigations” into the Tesla boss and his company because Musk “remains a critic.” virulent of the government”.

Musk has also used Twitter to court controversy away from the business world: In March he challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to a fight following the invasion of Ukraine, and in February Musk was convicted of a tweet comparing Canadian leader Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler.

The billionaire has battled with a British caver who belittled Musk’s offer to help rescue young footballers trapped in a cave in Thailand in the summer of 2018.

Musk called the caver, Vernon Unsworth, a “pedo” on Twitter.

Unsworth sued Musk for defamation, but a Los Angeles jury sided with the billionaire in December 2019 following a trial.

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Cathy W. Howerton