Apr 4, 2022 - Economy

Elon Musk could dictate the future of Twitter

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photo: Patrick Pleul/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk was already an activist user of Twitter. Now with his stake in the company at 9.2%, he’s likely to become an activist shareholder, too.

Why it matters: Musk has been ramping up his public criticism of the social media company over the past few years, particularly about the way it views free speech.

  • Amassing a financial stake puts him in a position to force Twitter to change policies to his liking, meaning the rest of the platform — user behavior, Twitter features and content moderation — could be shaped by his view of the world. 

Catch up quick: A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk triggered a disclosure on March 14, although as of now he disclosed no intentions to "agitate" as a shareholder.

  • Any plans from Musk to push for changes at Twitter would come with a future 13D regulatory filing in which he would have to outline his intentions.

Flashback: Musk and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have been friends and vocal supporters of each other for years.

  • Shortly after Dorsey stepped down last November, the Tesla CEO posted a meme depicting new CEO Parag Agrawal pushing Dorsey into a river.
  • Musk's own troubles with using Twitter escalated in 2018, when he famously tweeted he had secured funding to take Tesla private — setting off an ongoing feud with the SEC about how he uses the platform.

What they’re saying: “[T]his passive stake … could ultimately lead to an active stake and a [potentially] more aggressive ownership role of Twitter,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note earlier today.

  • Musk tweeted around noon ET today, “Oh hi lol.”

The big picture: Several assets touched by this story today soared, showing the outsized influence the world’s richest man already has with his following.

  • Shares of Twitter closed up 27.1%, marking the largest intraday pop since its first day of trade as a public company nine years ago.
  • Cryptocurrency dogecoin, which Tesla accepts as payment, spiked 10% shortly after the news broke.

What to watch: Musk is scheduled to speak at the TED conference next week.

  • Twitter’s annual shareholder meeting is on May 25.

Our thought bubble: Musk has often posited that we’re all living within a simulation. Well if he has his way, we will be — WITHIN HIS.

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