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Room Erupts When Elon Musk Gives 2-Word Answer About His Next Move

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The war for ownership of Twitter is not done, even if the board of directors decides not to sell to billionaire Elon Musk.

He spoke to host Chris Anderson during a TED Talk, and the host asked him if there was a “Plan B” if Twitter says no to his offer.

“There is,” the Tesla, SpaceX and Starlink CEO said.

“Well, I think we would want to err on — if in doubt, let the speech — let it exist. If it’s a gray area, I would say let the tweet exist. But obviously, in a case where there’s perhaps a lot of controversies that you would not want to necessarily promote that tweet, you know. So, I’m not — I’m not saying that I have all the answers here, but I do think that we want to be just very reluctant to delete things and have — just be very cautious with permanent bans. You know, timeouts, I think, are better than sort of permanent bans,” he said.

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“But just in general, like it said, it won’t be perfect, but I think we wanted to really have like the perception and reality that speech is as free and reasonably possible, and a good sign as to whether there is free speech is, is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like? And if that is the case, then we have free speech. And it’s damn annoying when someone you don’t like says something you don’t like. That is a sign of a healthy, functioning free speech situation,” he said.

This week the world’s richest man has launched a bid to completely take control of Twitter in a hostile takeover worth $43 billion, Bloomberg News reported.

The Tesla, SpaceX and Starlink CEO will offer $54.20 per share in cash, which represents a 54% premium over the Jan. 28 closing price.

Musk, 50, announced the offer in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The billionaire, who also controls Tesla Inc., first disclosed a stake of about 9% on April 4. Tesla shares fell about 1.5% in pre-market trading on the news. 

The executive is one of Twitter’s most-watched firebrands, often tweeting out memes and taunts to @elonmusk’s more than 80 million followers. He has been outspoken about changes he’d like to consider imposing at the social media platform, and the company offered him a seat on the board following the announcement of his stake, which made him the largest individual shareholder.

After his initial stake became public, Musk immediately began appealing to fellow users about prospective moves, from turning Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter and adding an edit button for tweets to granting automatic verification marks to premium users. One tweet suggested Twitter might be dying, given that several celebrities with high numbers of followers rarely tweet.

Musk can afford a takeover of Twitter. He’s currently worth about $260 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, compared with Twitter’s market valuation of about $37 billion.

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In a letter to Twitter Musk said that he believes the company “will neither thrive nor serve [its free speech] societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”

“If the deal doesn’t work, given that I don’t have confidence in management nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” he said.

Musk has hired Morgan Stanley as an advisor to help with the takeover of the social media giant.

Days ago it was speculated that decision not to take the job means he is now free to improve his position within the company, as in, buy more stock.

Musk did not sign an agreement with Twitter to join the board of directors because it had the following terms as long as he serves on the board: “Mr. Musk agrees that, for so long as Mr. Musk is serving on the Board and for 90 days thereafter, Mr. Musk will not, either alone or as a member of a group, become the beneficial owner of more than 14.9% of Company’s common stock outstanding at such time, including for these purposes economic exposure through derivative securities, swaps or hedging transactions.”

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