Billionaire Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, admitted at the TED2022 conference in Vancouver that he is “not convinced” he will be able to purchase Twitter. Hours earlier, a regulatory filing indicated that he had made a bid to buy the company for $54.20 per share, or $43 billion.
Twitter acknowledged it had received the bid, but the company’s board of directors must still assess the offer, which values the company’s stock at a fraction of what it was worth last summer at $70. Musk, on the other hand, has stated that the offer would be his “best and final.”
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal allegedly informed employees in a staff meeting later on Thursday that the firm is examining the offer.
“There is,” Musk answered when asked by TED’s Chris Anderson if he had a “Plan B” if his current offer was rejected.
He didn’t go into detail.
Despite his huge wealth, many of Musk’s assets are not liquid, leaving some analysts wondering how he would come up with the funds if his bid was accepted. According to Wells Fargo analysts, Musk may be forced to sell Tesla stock to fund the takeover.
Anderson inquired if Musk had “financing secured,” a reference to Musk’s infamous tweet in which he stated that Tesla will be taken private, which landed him in deep water with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“I have sufficient assets,” Musk said. “I can do it if possible.”
“Funding was actually secured,” Musk wrote, referring to the earlier Tesla take private tweet, and explaining why he does not “have regard for the SEC in that case.”
He even referred to some of the agency’s employees as “those bastards.”
Musk was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2018 with making “false and misleading” claims to investors after he declared through Twitter in August of that year that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and had secured finance. Musk and Tesla eventually reached an agreement with the government, which they later updated in 2019.
Musk and Tesla each had to pay the SEC $20 million in fines, and Musk had to temporarily abandon his status as chairman of the company.
Musk was found in violation of some aspects of the agreement in June 2020, according to the SEC, which required the CEO to have tweets pre-approved if they contained important business information about Tesla that could affect the stock price. Musk tweeted that Tesla’s stock price was too high, causing the stock to plummet.
Musk is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for using Twitter to time his trades.
“I don’t mean to blame everyone at the SEC but certainly the San Francisco office,” Musk said, discussing the controversy over the take private tweet. “It was because the SEC knew that funding was secured but they pursued an active, public investigation nonetheless. At the time, Tesla was in a precarious financial situation and I was told by the banks that if I did not agree to settle with the SEC that they would, the banks would cease providing working capital and Tesla would go bankrupt immediately. So that’s like having a gun to your child’s head. So I was forced to concede to the SEC unlawfully, those bastards.”
There was no comment from the SEC.
Musk also outlined his plans for Twitter if he succeeds in taking control.
“I think it’s very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech,” he said, likening Twitter to a “de facto town square.”
He acknowledged the necessity for some content moderation, such as in the case of explicit appeals to violence, and stated that the service would have to abide by the laws of the nations in which it operates.
He does, however, want the platform’s policies and algorithm to be far more open and accessible so that users may criticise it and voice their concerns.
He believes that whenever a tweet is changed in any way, there should be information accompanying it that explains why. When Twitter removes or classifies a post that violates its guidelines, it already includes a link to its policies.
“Time-outs” are preferable to permanent bans, according to Musk.
He also stated that removing “spam and scam bots” from the site would be a high priority.
There was no comments from Twitter.
(Adapted from Bloomberg.com)