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Elon Musk Takes a Stake In Twitter. What Now?

  • Alyx 

Elon Musk would have already been a fascinating case study in time management, somehow managing Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, cryptocurrency advocacy and a colorful personal life including an SNL appearance and challenging Vladimir Putin to fisticuffs. And yet somehow he has now found time to get involved – to some extent – with social media platform Twitter. Musk has for many years run a Twitter account that has amassed over 80 million Twitter followers, and now has indicated he has taken a large stake in the company. At over 9%, the passive stake he’s acquired is larger than even that of Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey. Though, historically, Elon Musk has always been anything but passive.

In recent days, Musk has Tweeted critically about the platform, asking his followers if he believes Twitter adheres to free speech principles, and even questioning if a new platform is needed. Many replies jokingly suggested that he just buy it- though, the stake he’s purchased so far isn’t sufficient to stop others from now taking interest in the platform (think Jeff Bezos, who already has a space rivalry with Musk and also owns the Washington Post and could add Twitter to his media portfolio).

It remains to be seen what will happen with Musk’s stake in the platform. He doesn’t fit the profile here of an activist investor who wants to create larger market cap and “add value” in that way, but we expect him to at some point focus on the openness of the platform. If Musk does want to get involved, Twitter has historically been criticized for having a board of directors that doesn’t even use Twitter – perhaps a vocal and controversial user of the product could add a voice that will generate more engagement. [Update: As of April 11th, Musk has indicated he declined the offer to join the board. There is much speculation as to why, but one potential reason that stands out is that doing so would have limited him from acquiring more than 14.9% of the company’s stock.] It’s also possible that he’s thinking much larger and wants to see the platform taken private and decentralized. We’ve worked with clients who have built and implemented content moderation at scale, and are watching with keen interest to see how Musk navigates the task of ensuring a free speech platform, if his recent Tweets were any indicator of his interests.

In the meantime, if you’re a brand that leverages Twitter as part of your social media strategy, we recommend continuing on as always, but keeping an eye on any changes or enhancements that Musk advocates for on the platform. If you’d like to chat about Twitter strategy, contact us.