April 12, 2022
Late Sunday the social media company’s CEO, Parag Agrawal, tweeted that Elon Musk would not join Twitter’s board—reversing a much-publicized plan announced April 5. Musk had revealed around the same time that he had bought up a 9.2% stake in the business, becoming its largest shareholder in the process.
“Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning that he will no longer be joining the board. I believe this is for the best,” Agrawal wrote. Seemingly alluding to Musk’s provocations and the accompanying media fervor, Agrawal added, “There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged.”
Agrawal’s comments marked a dramatic change in tone from his tweets on April 5, when he said that Musk was “both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service, which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom.”
Days later, Musk spent part of the weekend polling his followers about ways to change Twitter, in forms both serious and farcical.
“Delete the w in twitter?” he asked on Sunday. The poll’s two possible answers: “Yes” and “Of course.”
Separately, Musk mulled whether Twitter’s headquarters should be converted into a homeless shelter and offered policy suggestions for the company’s paid membership service, Twitter Blue, including a new type of verification badge.
Musk was perhaps dissuaded from joining the board because of a stipulation that would have banned him from acquiring more than a 14.9% ownership stake in the business. To some spectators, including Musk’s legion of followers on Twitter, the provision suggested that the company’s leadership team merely wanted to restrict how much influence he could amass.
Musk had polled his followers in March about whether Twitter was adhering to principles of free speech (more than 70% said no). When news of his investment subsequently became public, it seemed that he had bought stock in response to their feedback.
In fact, filings show, he started buying shares at least as far back as January.
Over the years, Musk has used the platform to announce official news from his main companies, Tesla and SpaceX; to sound off on critics; and to troll the internet. That has landed him in hot water a number of times.
Most infamously, in 2018 he declared that he was considering taking the electric automaker private at a price of $420 per share—sending the company’s stock on a wild ride.
The Securities and Exchange Commission was not amused, particularly after it determined that Musk had not truly had the “funding secured,” as he suggested. He eventually settled with the agency, paid a $20 million fine, and stepped down as Tesla’s chairman.
But his Twitter fingers haven’t slowed down since.
Research contact: @thedailybeast