Elon Musk made a U-turn by joining the Twitter board a week after it turned out that he had taken a surprising 9.2% stake in the social media company.
The world’s richest man was due to join the board on Saturday, but Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said Monday morning that Musk had rejected the offer. Musk, who is worth $ 260 billion (£ 200 billion), appeared as a major investor on Twitter last week and was invited to join his board.
Announcing on Twitter that Musk would not join the board, Agraval said: “I believe this is for the best. We have and will always appreciate the contribution of our shareholders, whether they are on our board or not. Elon is our largest shareholder and we will remain open to his contribution. “
After the news of the U-turn came, Musk tweeted and then removed the emoji with his hand over his mouth.
It also emerged on Monday that Musk had changed his statement to the US Financial Supervision Authority about his investment. Form 13D, submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced more tweets about the company, stating that Musk could “express his views to the board and / or members of the issuer’s management team and / or the public via social media.” or other channels in relation to the business, products and services offered by the issuer ”.
When Musk’s 9.2 percent stake was made public last Monday, it made him the largest shareholder on Twitter. However, a subsequent filing by Vanguard, a major asset manager in the United States, shows that the financial firm is now the largest shareholder with 10.3% of Twitter, having previously held 8.8%.
Musk, an active Twitter user with 81.3 million followers on the platform, followed the acquisition with a series of posts proposing radical changes in the business.
Since then, several of the multibillionaire’s posts have been deleted. The proposals include making the first-class Twitter service ad-free, although the company relies on advertising for 90% of its revenue. “The power of corporations to dictate policy increases significantly if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive,” Musk tweeted.
Other suggestions include asking users if they want an edit button – soon followed by Twitter, which confirms it is working on an edit feature – and, more in line with Musk’s playful style of tweeting, whether Twitter should convert its headquarters in San Francisco in a homeless shelter “because no one shows up anyway.”
In a statement to colleagues he shared on Twitter, Agraval said the board had been “clear about the risks” of Musk’s accession. He said the board believed that appointing Musk as a business trustee who “should act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders” was the best way forward.
However, Agraval said Musk had told the company on Saturday, the day his appointment was due to take effect, that he would not join again.
Agraval added: “There will be distractions going forward, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged. The decisions we make and how we implement them are in our hands, not anyone else’s. Let’s muffle the noise and stay focused on the work and what we’re building. “
Musk has often opposed Twitter’s moderation policies, saying last year that “many people will be very unhappy with West Coast high-tech as a de facto arbiter of free speech.”
In March, after acquiring a large stake in the company but before it became public, he said: “Given that Twitter serves as a de facto public city square, non-compliance with the principles of freedom of speech fundamentally undermines democracy. What must be done?”
Musk’s use of Twitter has also caused him various legal problems, including with the SEC. In 2018, Musk and Tesla agreed to pay a total of $ 40 million in fines and Musk to approve his Tesla-related tweets from a corporate lawyer after he tweeted that he had the money to make Tesla private at $ 420. per share.
Shares of Twitter rose 27% last Monday after Musk’s stake was first announced. By the end of the week, shares rose 17% and rose another 1.7% on Monday, valuing the business at more than $ 37 billion.