Elon Musk Offers to Buy Rest of Twitter at a Valuation of More Than $43 Billion
Musk calls the proposal his ‘best and final offer’; Twitter says it’s reviewing the offer
Elon Musk has more than 80 million followers on Twitter. Earlier this year he built a 9.2% position in the social-media company.
By George Stahl, WSJ
Updated Apr. 14, 2022 9:04 am ET
Elon Musk has offered to buy the rest of Twitter Inc. in a deal valuing the social-media company at more than $43 billion, calling the bid his “best and final offer.”
“If it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” said Mr. Musk, who earlier this year built a more than 9% position in the stock, making him the company’s largest shareholder.
“I am not playing the back-and-forth game,” Mr. Musk said. “I have moved straight to the end.”
Mr. Musk said he would pay $54.20 a share in cash, representing what he said was a 54% premium over the day before he began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before his investment was publicly announced.
“It’s a high price, and your shareholders will love it,” Mr. Musk said. “Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.”
Twitter confirmed it had received Mr. Musk’s offer and said its board would carefully review the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.
On Wednesday, Twitter shares closed at $45.85. In premarket trading Thursday, the stock rose nearly 9% to $49.90. During the past year, Twitter’s shares have traded between $31.30 and $73.34.
The latest developments add to a whirlwind 10 days for Twitter. Mr. Musk’s stake in the company was made public April 4, and plans for him to join the board were announced April 5. He then spent much of this past weekend tweeting criticisms, suggestions and apparent jokes about the company—before deciding not to join the board earlier this week.
The Tesla CEO, with more than 80 million followers on Twitter, has long been one of Twitter’s most prominent users and, at times, one of its most vocal critics. A self-described “free speech absolutist,” Mr. Musk has publicly encouraged the platform to allow a wide range of opinions.
The series of tweets over the weekend by Mr. Musk, taken together, targeted the core of Twitter’s business, seemingly suggesting the company shut down its headquarters and cut staff while shifting from an ad-based business to one that depends more upon subscriptions to survive.
“The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive,” Mr. Musk said in a tweet that was later deleted.
On Thursday, Mr. Musk added to those comments. “As I indicated this weekend, I believe that the company should be private to go through the changes that need to be made,” he said in the filing.
Analysts have suggested that one of Mr. Musk’s motivations could be to influence Twitter’s moderation policies, which he has criticized as being too restrictive.
Mr. Musk said Thursday that he would consider selling his stake if the deal doesn’t work out, “given that I don’t have confidence in management nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market.”
The Tesla CEO is scheduled to appear Thursday at a TED conference in Vancouver. Separately, he tweeted Thursday, “I made an offer.”
Mr. Musk’s bid comes as Twitter seeks to add more users and grow revenue. The company said a little over a year ago that it would work to at least double its revenue to $7.5 billion by the end of 2023, and reach at least 315 million so-called monetizable daily active users at that time.
The company recorded $5.08 billion in revenue at the end of last year, up 37% from the previous year. User numbers increased 13% to about 217 million daily users. If the company maintains this pace through the end of 2023, it would exceed its revenue target, though miss the mark for enlarging its user base.
During the past two years, Twitter has experimented with new features and products intended to fuel user engagement and more revenue, with mixed results. The company—less than a year after launching it—shut down Fleets, a feature that allowed users to post full-screen photos and videos that disappeared after a day, similar to the stories features available on rival services Instagram and Snapchat.
Twitter had more success with a feature it began testing in December 2020 called Spaces, which let users congregate in audio-only rooms. The feature was successful enough in testing to be launched a few months later to Twitter users with more than 600 followers.
The company followed that with Twitter Blue, a paid version that offers subscribers exclusive features. Among the features included in the $2.99 monthly service is the ability for subscribers to use nonfungible tokens they own as their Twitter profile pictures.
In the weekend tweets, Mr. Musk said Twitter Blue should ban ads, lower its $2.99-a-month price and consider accepting dogecoin cryptocurrency as payment for the subscription service. He also said subscribers should get an authentication check mark.
Some analysts said Mr. Musk could influence Twitter to ease up on content moderation or reinstate users, such as Donald Trump. The company banned the account of the then-president in January 2021, citing what it said was a risk of incitement to violence. That move drew sharp criticism from Mr. Trump and some of his supporters.
Such changes could spur user growth and engagement if more users come onto the service and more debates are sparked, but it could also scare away advertisers, analysts have said.
In March, Mr. Musk polled his followers on Twitter for their thoughts on whether the social network adheres to free-speech principles. In the poll, 70% of the more than 2 million respondents voted no. Mr. Musk also said at that time that he would give serious thought to building a new platform.
Mr. Musk began buying Twitter shares on Jan. 31, when the stock traded at $36.83, according to a filing earlier this month. Those purchases continued through April 1.
Colin Kellaher contributed to this article.