Elon Musk is now reportedly in charge of Twitter. The Tesla CEO has, after months of the most chaotic deals of Silicon Valley history, apparently taken the reins of the big blue bird.
Musk seemingly announced the deal by changing his Twitter bio to “chief twit” on Thursday and tweeting, “The bird is free.”
As a first order of business, Musk has apparently sacked Twitter’s CEO and CFO, according to early reports.
If the Twitter deal has, indeed, been completed, it would mean the completion of one of the most chaotic takeovers ever in the world of technology. The twists and turns of the story are enough to give anybody whiplash.
The tumultuous takeover shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that Musk might just be the most chaotic Twitter user ever. So what happened?
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Well, first the PayPal Mafia member was angry at Jack Dorsey’s platform, then he loved it. Then he wanted to buy it before backing out of the $44bn deal, claiming that Twitter lied about the number of bots on the platform.
Twitter then responded by suing the errant buyer, putting the two behemoths of Silicon Valley on a collision court that would’ve landed them in court. That court case now seems to have been averted.
Why do we need a timeline over the feud between Elon Musk and Twitter?
Two powerhouses clashing on an epic scale elicits the question of how did it ever come to this?
To answer that question, you must understand that Musk has a long and messy history with Twitter, starting in 2009 when he first set up his account.
There is no shortage of examples of his use of the social media platform has landed him in hot water.
Over the years, he has referred to a British caver who rescued children trapped children in a cave as “pedo guy” and joked that he’d take Tesla private at $420 – a reference to the weed-smoking culture.
This history has left some market watchers, journalists and regular pundits wondering if Musk is actually serious about buying Twitter in the first place.
Whatever you think about that, it’s fair to say the SpaceX billionaire is definitely on his way to earning a spot on Twitter’s wall of fame – or wall of shame.
This constantly evolving saga has ranged from unbelievable to exhausting, with new twists in the tale seemingly coming out almost every day.
Verdict has travelled back to the beginning of the story to round up the key moments in this messy feud of broken deals, sassy tweets and Elon Musk being Elon Musk.
Elon Musk VS Twitter: The timeline
31 January, 2022
Our timeline kicks off in January when the Musk begins to purchase shares in Twitter, according to filings made to the SEC in April.
14 March, 2022
SEC filings made on March 14 reveal that Musk now owns over 9.2% of the common stock of Twitter.
As a side note, he challenged Vladimir Putin “to single combat” of the faith of Ukraine on that day too.
Musk had previously strengthened Ukraine’s digital defence capabilities by providing the country with access to his Starlink network of internet satellites. As such, he was part of a wave of Western tech companies rushing to the aid of Ukrainians and their own tech workers in the invaded country.
24 March, 2022
Musk begins to publicly slam Twitter through a series of tweets to his 100 million followers.
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” he fumed in a tweet.
He then puts up a poll where over two million Twitter users vote on whether or not Twitter adheres to the principle of free speech.
Musk then adds: “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
Of the people voting, 70.4% voted no and 29.6% voted yes.
4 April, 2022
Several news platforms report that Musk now owns almost a tenth of Twitter.
Several right-wing mouthpieces welcome the news that the irreverent billionaire now partly owns one of the most influential social media platforms in the world.
They argue that Musk now owning part of Twitter could mean that conservative voices that have been deplatformed, such as former President Donald Trump, could return to the site.
Liberal pundits are concerned for the very same reason.
At the end, though, no one knows what the news really means.
“Prolific shitposter now owns 9.2% of Twitter,” Vice sums up the news.
5 April, 2022
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal offers Musk a place on Twitter’s board the same day as he becomes an active investor. A few days later he declines the company’s offer to join its board.
14 April, 2022
Musk reveals in a tweet that he made an offer to the board to purchase the company at $54.20 a share, totalling the company at a whopping $44bn.
15 April, 2022
Twitter hastily installs a poison pill defence to prevent a hostile takeover attempt from Musk.
Meanwhile, Musk is tweeting a February 2022 report published by Goldman Sachs which valued the company at $30 per share.
26 April, 2022
Twitter shockingly announces that Musk will buy Twitter.
Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal says: “Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”
The news set off a new tidal wave of speculation about what the deal would mean for the company and for freedom of speech.
May 4, 2022
Musk spitballs about ways to make Twitter profitable – he suggests introducing a “slight cost” to government and commercial users, while stressing that the platform will remain totally free for “casual” users.
13 May, 2022
Musk tweets that the Twitter deal has been put on a temporary hold. He does this by quote tweeting a Reuters report where Twitter claims less than 5% of its active users are spam or fake.
15 May, 2022
Musk claims users are being manipulated “by the algorithm”.
In a Twitter thread, the SpaceX CEO writes: “You are being manipulated by the algorithm in ways you don’t realize.”
“I’m not suggesting malice in the algorithm, but rather that it’s trying to guess what you might want to read and, in doing so, inadvertently manipulate/amplify your viewpoints without you realizing this is happening,” Musk writes in a follow-up tweet.
On the same day, Musk gets into a feud with Agrawal regarding the number of spam accounts on the micro-blogging platform.
The Twitter CEO shares a detailed thread explaining how spams work on the platform and what it’s doing to prevent them.
17 May, 2022
Musk explosively claims the deal will not be moving forward unless Twitter can prove that less than 5% of active accounts are bots and spam.
26 May, 2022
The lawsuit alleges Musk saved himself up to $156m.
6 June, 2022
Reuters reports that Musk sent a letter to Twitter claiming they “transparently refused to comply with its obligations under the merger agreement, which is causing further suspicion that the company is withholding the requested data.”
9 June, 2022
Twitter hands Musk access to its firehose API, which allows the SpaceX founder to view the entirety of the company’s data in real-time. This causes a lot of users to question their data’s privacy on the platform.
21 June, 2022
Musk says he is still waiting to find out the exact number of bots on the platform during an address to the Qatar Economic Forum.
The Tesla CEO says there are still “unresolved matters” with Twitter before the $44bn takeover deal proceeds.
22 June, 2022
Twitter’s board urges shareholders to approve the $44bn deal.
A SEC filing says the board “unanimously recommends that you vote [for] the adoption of the merger agreement.”
8 July, 2022
Here’s where the timeline turns into a story of antagonism for real: Musk reveals on July 8 that he intends to back out of the multi-billion dollar Twitter deal,
An SEC filing reads: “For nearly two months, Mr Musk has sought the data and information necessary to ‘make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform…Twitter has failed or refused to provide this information.”
Twitter chairman Bret Taylor claims at the same time that the board is focused on completing the transaction and says they are suing the SpaceX founder for leaving the deal.
11 July, 2022
On July 11, Twitter makes another mark on the timeline by hiring Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to sue Musk.
Musk later responds by hiring Quinn Emanuel Urqhart & Sullivan to defend his case in court. The firm has worked with the CEO twice in the past.
That day, he also tweets a meme, suggesting that he has forced Twitter to disclose their bot info in court.
28 July, 2022
Musk tweets: “Much harder to make friends than enemies. My skill at the latter is improving.”
It is unclear whether this was in response to his struggles with the Twitter case, the rumours of him ending his friendship with Google co-founder Sergey Brin after the Tesla billionaire slept with his wife or another one of the many scandals that Musk has been involved in.
Musk has denied having an affair with his long-term friend’s wife.
5 August, 2022
The Washington Post reports Musk has filed a countersuit accusing Twitter of fraud over the $44bn deal. Musk alleges Twitter misled his team and held back necessary information about its true user base.
The following day, Musk posted another Twitter poll. This time the poll says “Less than 5% of Twitter daily users are fake/spam”.
Musk then gives users two options. The first option is the word “Yes” followed by three robot emojis.
The second option was “Lmaooo no”.
LMAO is internet parlance for “laughing my ass off.”
Anyway, 822,766 people vote in the poll. Of those, 35.1% believe Twitter and 64.9% believe Musk.
August 7, 2022
Following the poll on August 6, Musk adds the next event on the timeline by tweeting: “Twitter has spoken…”
The reluctant social media platform buyer then ramps it up a notch.
Musk goes full Musk and challenges Twitter CEO to a public debate about the percentage of bots on the platform.
“Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!” Musk tweets.
August 11, 2022
The legal team of Elon Musk demands that Twitter give them the name of every employee who is responsible for calculating what percentage of the platform’s users are bot and spam accounts.
Musk’s lawyers allegedly urged the judge handling the case to tell Twitter to hand over all of the names so the defence could question them, Reuters reports.
August 23, 2022
Elon Musk demands that Twitter’s co-founder, Jack Dorsey, hands over documents and communications regarding the Tesla CEO’s April agreement to buy the company.
The SpaceX founder is also seeking documents regarding the spam accounts on the platform.
On the same day, Reuters reports that Twitter is reorganising the teams dealing with toxic content and bots on the platform.
August 24, 2022
A whistleblower allege that Twitter has misled regulators about its security risks further stokes the fire. Twitter’s former security chief Peiter Zatko accused his former employer of having failed to disclose weaknesses in its security and data privacy. At this stage it is unclear how Musk’s legal team will use the new revelations.
August 29, 2022
Elon Musk orders a subpoena on Twitter whistleblower Zatko, seeking documents on the company’s alleged security faults and spam accounts, according to a court filing.
September 5, 2022
Elon finds time to take a break from legal proceedings and watch Amazon Prime Video’s new Lord of the Rings series.
In a savage tweet criticising the show, the Tesla CEO writes: “Tolkien is turning in his grave”.
He ends the thread in true Musk fashion, claiming “90% of my comments are bots.”
The criticism, which plays into Musk’s rivalry with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, was met with widespread disagreement online – following many positive reviews of the Tolkien spin-off.
Among those not pleased with Musk in his critic-bag was Neil Gaiman, creator of the hit Netflix drama The Sandman and author of American Gods.
After being tagged by a disgruntled Twitter user asking him for his thoughts, the author hit out at Musk writing: “Elon Musk doesn’t come to me for advice on how to fail to buy Twitter, and I don’t go to him for film, TV or literature criticism.”
September 13, 2022
Twitter shareholders vote to approve Musk’s $44 billion bid to buy the company.
September 22, 2022
Musk is granted permission to amend his counterclaims to use a $7.75 million severance payment to a Twitter whistle-blower as a case for walking away from his deal with the company.
The CEO claims Twitter failed to get his consent for the severance agreement, which goes against the terms of the buyout.
September 28, 2022
Elon Musk’s lawyers ask a federal appeals court to throw out a provision in his 2018 consent decree with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The mandate required a Tesla Inc lawyer to vet some of his posts on Twitter.
Musk’s lawyers slammed the pre-approval mandate as a “government-imposed muzzle.”
October 4, 2022
In a shock turn, Musk agrees to pay the price he offered before attempting to walk away from the deal months ago.
It comes just two weeks before the Tesla CEO was due to appear in court opposite Twitter.
Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s CEO, sends an internal email to employees to alert them of Musk’s intent to buy the company again.
“We received the letter from the Musk parties which they have filed with the SEC. Our intention is to close the transaction at $54.20 per share,” according to the email, Platformer’s Zoe Schiffer reported.
Elon Musk also tweets that buying Twitter is “and accelerant to creating X, the everything app”.
Some reports suggest he could be hinting towards Chinese “super-apps” pioneered by technology giants like Tencent.
October 6, 2022
Elon Musk has until October 28 to complete his acquisition of Twitter to avoid going to trial, a Delaware Chancery Court judge ruled.
October 13, 2022
Elon Musk is under investigation by federal authorities over his conduct in the $44bn takeover deal, Twitter said in a court filing on Thursday October 13.
The filing claimed that Musk was under investigation, but did not specify which federal authorities were conducting the search and what the focus was.
October 26, 2022
Musk tweeted a video of himself carrying an actual sink into Twitter HQ, captioned “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” He followed up with another tweet saying that he was meeting a lot of “cool people at Twitter”.
October 27, 2022
On October 27, he tweeted screenshots of a written down note to advertisers.
Musk said that there had been “much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Most of it has been wrong.”
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of the civilisation to have a common digital town square where a wide range of beliefs and be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk continued.
“There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.
“In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of the traditional media has fuelled and catered to polarised extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost.
“That’s why I bought Twitter. I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love.”
Following his visit to the Twitter HQ, sources have told news outlets that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and finance chief Ned Segal have left the company’s San Francisco headquarters and will not be returning. The Washington Post also reported that legal policy head Vijaya Gadde had also been fired.
“The about turn is complete, with Elon Musk claiming to have freed Twitter by closing the deal even though he spent months flapping his trapped wings, trying to flee from the purchase,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at financial service firm Hargreaves Lansdown, wrote in a note.
“The rollercoaster track he’s taken Twitter shareholders on has ended in a last scream of exhilaration for those who clung on for the ride. While the price of $54.20 a share is still below the heady heights of above $77 reached in the pandemic rush for tech in March 2021, it’s well above the $32 the company was being traded at a year later, just weeks before Musk slapped his generous offer on the table.
“With tech valuations tumbling everywhere you turn, $44bn is an eye-watering price to pay for the platform, which is why there is so much surprise that the deal finally went through, especially following the twists and turn of the legal fight as Mr Musk tried to back out.
“Team Musk clearly believed the chances of the court ruling in his favour were slim, but his bout of buyer’s remorse may have damaged the company he will end up owning.”
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