Tesla CEO Elon Musk has become the largest outside shareholder of Twitter. In a regulatory filing on Monday, Musk confirmed buying a 9.2 per cent stake in the micro-blogging platform. The regulatory filing came just a week after he criticised the company for its adherence to the tenets of free speech.
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s 13G filing shows that Musk now owns 73,486,938 shares of Twitter and it is classified as a passive stake. The 9.2 percent stake was worth $2.89B on the basis of Twitter’s Friday closing price but the company’s shares closed up 27 per cent on Monday.
Free speech or just another meme platform
Despite his ability to build an electric vehicle company with a market cap of $1T and a space company capable of building reusable rocket boosters, Musk has been a memelord on the microblogging platform. In his quest to be outspoken online, he has often said things that made little sense or put Tesla investors in a tough spot. This purchase of stake in Twitter also began with a tweet.
On March 25, Musk polled his more than 80 million followers on Twitter asking whether Twitter “rigorously adheres” to the principles of free speech. The poll saw more than 2 million people vote and more than 70 per cent replied no. Musk followed up with another tweet asking whether a new platform was needed and that he was giving serious thought to starting his own.
Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2022
Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?
For those who saw this as the possibility of Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, buying Twitter shares would have made good financial returns. The 13G filing indicates that he does not plan to join the board or become an activist investor. However, Musk is known for defying the norms and has run into trouble with the SEC several times in the past.
The SEC is likely looking at Elon Musk’s tweet asking his followers about Twitter’s free speech policy especially when the filing shows that he acquired at least some of his shares by March 14. After his ownership in Twitter became public knowledge, Elon did what Elon is always known to do – feed chaos.
Elon Musk asked his Twitter followers whether they want an edit button on the platform. The poll with 2,569,093 votes has seen over 73.4 per cent voting “yse” and 26.6 per cent voting “on.” Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal retweeted Musk’s poll and asked people to “vote carefully” and added that the “consequences of this poll will be important.”
Do you want an edit button?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully. https://t.co/UDJIvznALB— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) April 5, 2022
Within a few hours of revealing his passive stake, Musk helped Twitter see its best day of trading since its IPO in 2013. Unlike Google or Facebook, Twitter’s founders do not have special voting control, which makes the platform vulnerable to outside pressure. After recovering from activist pressure by Elliott Management, Twitter now faces an unknown in the form of Elon Musk. Whether he invokes changes within Twitter or not, we are guaranteed to get treated with some head scratching tweets. Here is a look at some of Musk’s tweets that left the SEC baffled the most and the world a little.
Taking Tesla private at $420
Shareholders could either to sell at 420 or hold shares & go private— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
In August 2018, Elon Musk told his Twitter followers that he is considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. He went on to add that he has “funding secured” forcing the US SEC to sue him for fraudulent charges and misleading investors. Musk ended up paying millions in fines and was even forced to step down as Tesla’s chairman. He does continue to have significant power with 140 characters.
Selling his Tesla stock
Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2021
Do you support this?
In what looked like another effort to get the US SEC riled up, Musk took a vote on Twitter asking his followers whether he should sell Tesla stock. After more than 50 per cent voted yes, he did just that. However, the regulatory filings showed that Musk had already locked sales of his options in Tesla stock even before he tweeted asking for his follower’s approval. When it comes to taking followers for a ride, Musk does it in plaid mode.
Controversial opinions on COVID-19 pandemic
Extremely big difference between died because of or died with. Also, did the person actually have C19 or did they just have C19 symptoms? It’s almost impossible to die without feeling weakness, shortness of breath or other C19 symptoms, unless you were crushed by a falling piano.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 30, 2020
With the pandemic raging and killing hundreds of thousands of people in the US, you would expect Elon Musk to request people to adhere to safety protocols. However, Musk turned out to a COVID sceptic and tweeted “the coronavirus panic is dumb”. He has later on expressed his distrust in antigen tests and frustration with lockdown. The most controversial of his opinions came when he said the virus isn’t deadly. The science guy turned out to be a promoter of COVID-19 misinformation.
Selling all physical possessions
I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2020
In 2020, he surprised the world by announcing that he plans to do away with all of his physical possessions. He claimed to not own any house but did not offer how it works for someone with billions of dollars in networth. The tweet, which obviously went viral, was another proof that Musk posts whatever is on his mind and doesn’t think it through before posting them on the micro-blogging platform. He followed up to let the world know that his then girlfriend Grimes did not support his decision.
Musk’s insensitivity on full display
Pronouns suck— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2020
Musk got himself in trouble with his partner Grimes again in 2020 when he slammed the use of gender pronouns. In a now-deleted tweet, Grimes immediately called him out. Grimes urged him to reconsider his stance while thousands of people found his tweet insensitive. “I love you but please turn off ur phone or give me a call [sic]. I cannot support this hate. Please stop this. I know this is not your heart,” Grimes wrote.
You can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2021
For Elon Musk, 2021 was a year when he spent most of his time boosting the credibility of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. On January 29, 2021, he added #bitcoin to his Twitter profile page and days later, he announced that Tesla acquired $1.5B in bitcoin. To cap it off, he added that people can buy a Tesla with Bitcoin, leading the cryptocurrency to a record high at the time.
Boring Company Flamethrower
After 50k hats, we will start selling The Boring Company flamethrower— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2017
In late 2017, Elon Musk began selling Boring Company merchandise as a joke. With the products selling, Elon announced on Twitter that he will release a Boring Company flamethrower if 50,000 hats were sold by the Boring Company. After the hats did sell out, Musk released a limited edition flamethrower at $500 apiece and all 20,000 units sold out.
Solace from the toilet
It gives me solace— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 22, 2021
In November last year, Elon Musk gave too much information about his Twitter habits on Twitter. He revealed at least 50 per cent of tweets were from the toilet. The revelation, which surprised no one, was followed by Musk claiming it gives him solace. He scored a winner with that potty humour.
Tesla accepts Dogecoin for merch
Tesla merch buyable with Dogecoin— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 14, 2022
In another sign of how some crypto asset’s performance is directly aligned to their proximity to Elon Musk, Tesla CEO announced that the EV maker will accept Dogecoin as a payment method for its merchandise. Musk had said that Dogecoin is better suited for transactions even though it was created as a silly joke.
Connecting Ukraine via satellite
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
As Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Elon Musk really showed how his companies can support people around the world in the worst of times. When Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted asking for his support, Musk sent Starlink terminals as a way to keep the country connected while Russia tried to stop Ukraine from connecting to the western world. Though he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to a boxing match, the Starlink support showed Musk and his companies can do good for the society.