Sep 16, 2022 - Economy

Musk's friends warned him against buying Twitter

Elon Musk at an event in Norway, August 2022.

Photo: Carina Johnasen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images.

Several of Elon Musk's friends privately counseled him against acquiring Twitter, once they realized that he wasn't joking around, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Musk didn't take the advice. He's now is trying to back out of his $44 billion agreement, with a trial set for next month in Delaware.

  • Some sources close to Musk say that they don't doubt, or disagree with, his sincerity about removing content restrictions on the platform. They also think he has the ability to improve Twitter's products.
  • But they worried that he underestimated the headaches unique to Twitter, and how that could distract from efforts at SpaceX and Tesla that they believe are more important to him.

Other Musk confidants first learned about Musk's offer via his tweets. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, part of the so-called "PayPal Mafia" with Musk, spoke to Axios for its new season of "How It Happened." The podcast series explores the collision between the world's richest man, and one of its most influential social media platforms:

  • "I think I had the reaction of most people, it was like, 'oh my God, another huge problem. He's already dealing with a large number,'" Hoffman told Axios in an exclusive interview.
  • His venture capital firm, Greylock, declined Musk's offer to invest alongside him in Twitter, although remains confident in his friend's entrepreneurial prowess, he added. “I was one of the people who thought you couldn’t do both Tesla and SpaceX and clearly was wrong ... Elon’s right that Twitter needs innovation.”
  • It's also worth noting that other venture capital firms did agree to invest alongside Musk. This includes Sequoia Capital, where PayPal alum Roelof Botha is a longtime partner.

🎧 Go deeper: Episode 1 of How It Happened: Elon Musk vs. Twitter

Axios managing editor of business and markets Javier E. David, How It Happened senior producer Naomi Shavin and How It Happened reporter-producer Amy Pedulla contributed reporting for this story.

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