After dominating the news cycle recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) buyout generated reactions from fellow billionaires. From buying a 9% stake in the social media giant, the controversial magnate is set to be the newest owner of the company after the latter signified an optimistic response to Musk’s US$43-billion offer.
Bezos Intrigues, Then Retreats
Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) Chairman Jeff Bezos drew a remote line linking Musk’s Twitter purchase to Tesla’s connection with the Chinese government. Retweeting a post by a New York Times reporter, the fellow billionaire asked if the government gained leverage now on Twitter following its ban of the platform in 2009.
Bezos received a slew of responses to his question, mostly from Musk supporters who took the tweet as an insinuation of a hidden agenda and flipped the card on Bezos.
A little over an hour after Bezos posted the question, he then offered his own answer to the question–seemingly taking a more favorable tone toward Musk.
This is not the first time Bezos weighed in on Musk’s Twitter “business”. In a now-deleted tweet, the Tesla chief posted a poll asking his followers if Twitter should use its headquarters in San Francisco as a shelter for homeless people. Bezos replied with a tweet linked to a report about a homeless shelter attached to an Amazon office building, to which Musk replied “great idea.”
Musk seems to have a favorable relationship with the East Asian nation. When Tesla opened a showroom in the Xinjiang region in December 2021, Musk faced criticisms for not acknowledging the human rights abuses in the region, specifically to the ethnic minority of Uyghur people. Despite the sanctions in effect by the US government against China and many international brands pulling out of the region, Tesla still pushed through with the showroom opening.
“Elon Musk and his Tesla executives need to consider human rights in Xinjiang or risk being complicit,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Sophie McNeill.
Tesla recently increased its prices in China due to the global effects of inflation. Musk also said in a recent earnings call that the COVID-related Shanghai shutdown did “lose a lot of important days of production,” but “Giga Shanghai is coming back with a vengeance.”
Trump Will Keep On Truth-ing
While he’s optimistic about the ownership change in the platform that suspended him, former US President Donald Trump said he will not be going back to Twitter even if Musk reinstates his account.
“The bottom line is, no, I am not going back to Twitter,” said Trump.
This comes after many conservatives called for the reactivation of Trump’s suspended account, harking back to his relatively favorable relationship with Musk.
Instead, Trump is planning to “formally join his own [social media platform] Truth Social” in the coming days. He is expected to begin “truthing” within the week–an attempt to parallel “tweeting” as a verb.
On the potential competition between the two platforms, Trump said he does not see it that way.
“I think it is good. We want liberty and justice and fairness in our country, and the more we can have open, the better,” Trump added. “But no, I don’t view that as a competition for what I am doing.”
From Twitter User To Twitter Owner; What’s Next?
What is Musk’s first order of business? On the surface, the billionaire is allegedly hell-bent on championing freedom of speech on a company-owned platform. He even wished that his “worst critics remain on Twitter because that is what free speech means.”
Following his 9% equity purchase, Musk has been tweeting pertaining to how he perceives the platform handles freedom of speech. In his poll where he asked his followers if they believe Twitter rigorously adheres to the principle of freedom of speech, around 70.4% of over 2 million who answered voted “no”.
Specifically, it seems like he would be coming after spambots and authenticating actual human users.
Moreover, he has floated the idea of taking Twitter private, even posting a poll that saw his followers supporting the proposal.
It is also hard to discount the wealth potential created through the takeover. After the US$43-billion deal has been offered, Musk secured around US$46.5 billion in commitments for the potential acquisition.
A gungho user of Twitter, Musk also stands to gain personally now that he is set to own the platform. The Tesla chief, who frequently democratizes business decisions and details through tweets and polls, is still under the 2018 agreement with the SEC regarding the preapproval and monitoring of his tweets. Musk is currently in a legal battle with the agency to dismiss the agreement, claiming his “freedom of speech” is being stifled.
On the other hand, the SEC said that whatever the outcome of the legal recourse, Musk’s tweets relating to Tesla’s disclosure controls and procedures can still be legitimately investigated.
Related to this, Musk is being sued by former Twitter shareholders who claim they missed the potential of the recent price rally after he delayed for too long the announcement of his 9% equity purchase in the social media company.
But as always, unpredictability has always been Musk’s game. Although one thing can be expected: as the new Twitter owner himself tweeted, the next meeting at the San Francisco headquarters will be lit.
Twitter last traded at US$51.70 on the NYSE.
Information for this briefing was found via The Guardian and the companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.