Sep 30, 2022 - Economy

The powerful people texting Elon Musk before he offered to buy Twitter

SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a T-Mobile and SpaceX joint event.

Photo: Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

A new court filing shows that Elon Musk's phone buzzed with text messages from a number of celebrities, media personalities, and business leaders in the lead-up to his bid to buy Twitter.

Why it matters: The text messages, revealed in a court filing Thursday, offer a rare glimpse into the private conversations of the wealthiest man on the planet and other powerful figures as he looked to buy the social media company.

  • The messages were released as part of a pre-trial discovery process in the court battle between Musk and Twitter.

What they're saying: A number of the messages show prominent personalities trying to gain insight into the deal and providing advice on what Musk should do to improve the social media platform.

  • The texts included exchanges with the company's founder Jack Dorsey and current CEO Parag Agrawal, as well as notable names, such as podcaster Joe Rogan.
  • Musk also texted with multiple people as he searched for financing to help with the Twitter bid. This included Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison, per Fortune.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Musk discussed on March 26 what the future of Twitter would look like.

  • "A new platform is needed. It can't be a company. That's why I left," Dorsey wrote.

Agrawal told Musk on April 3 — days before it became public that Musk was joining Twitter's board — that he was "super excited about the opportunity" to work together. He said he looked "forward to working closely and finding ways to use your time as effectively as possible."

  • The mood between the two shifted slightly after Musk tweeted on April 9, "Is Twitter dying?" 
  • Agrawal texted Musk, “You are free to tweet ‘is Twitter dying?’ or anything else about Twitter — but it’s my responsibility to tell you that it’s not helping me make Twitter better in the current context. I’d like the company to get to a place where we are more resilient and don’t get distracted, but we aren’t there right now.”
  • Musk replied, “What did you get done this week?”
  • “I’m not joining the board,” he added. “This is a waste of time.”
  • Days later, Musk texted Agrawal: “Will make an offer to take Twitter private."

CBS anchor Gayle King asked Musk on April 6 if he would sit down for an interview with her about the deal.

  • "Have you missed me. Are you ready to do a proper sit down with me? so much to discuss! Especially with your Twitter play... what do I need to do???"
  • Musk replied, "The whole Twitter thing is getting blown out of proportion."
  • He also told King that a "Twitter edit button is coming."
  • On April 14, King texted Musk: “ELON! You buying Twitter or offering to buy Twitter […] Wow! Now don’t you think we should sit down together face to face? This is, as the kids of today say, a ‘gangsta move.'”

Podcaster Joe Rogan texted Musk on April 4 — the same day that Musk's stake in the social media company became public.

  • "Are you going to liberate twitter from the censorship happy mob?" Rogan asked.
  • "I will provide advice, which they may or may not choose to follow," Musk answered.

"Rick and Morty" co-creator Justin Roiland suggested on April 6 that Musk use technology from Roiland's friends to confirm users' real identities.

  • "As in, if people choose to use it, it could verify that they are a real person and not a troll farm," Roiland texted.
  • Musk has been consistently questioning the number of fake and spam accounts on Twitter, challenging the social media company's own user data.

Joe Lonsdale, a venture capitalist, texted Musk on April 16 that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "just called me just now with ideas how to help you. Let me know if you or somebody on your side wants to chat [with] him.”

  • “Haha cool,” Musk texted back.

What's next: The trial between Musk and Twitter starts Oct. 17.

Go deeper: A timeline of the Musk-Twitter deal so far

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