What if one of the world’s most important information tools belonged to a mercurial billionaire who could do whatever he wanted with it?
Yes, I’m talking about Elon Musk’s proposal to buy Twitter for himself, he announced on Thursday. His offer is worth more than $43 billion, which is a lot of money even for Tesla CEO and SpaceX owner Musk. (Musk) letter offer to buy Twitter said its purchase would be conditional on finding help paying for the acquisition. It didn’t say where the money might come from.)
Will Musk actually have the money and the attention to push through his proposed acquisition, and will Twitter say yes? Who knows? The word “unpredictable” doesn’t do justice to this moment† We are already in week 2 of Musk and Twitter’s very public and rocky romanceand more madness may follow.
But imagine Musk eventually buying Twitter from the shareholders who own it today. Perhaps the closest comparison to this would be 19th-century newspaper barons such as William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, and the fictional Charles Foster Kane, who used their papers to pursue their personal agendas, sensationalize world events, and harass their enemies.
We haven’t really had a Citizen Kane of the digital age, but Musk could be. And Twitter’s global influence is arguably greater and more powerful than any Hearst newspaper.
Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post and Rupert Murdoch’s news media empire may be close, but this would be a milestone: a 21st-century tech lord’s purchase of a digital platform of global importance, with the aim of bringing it to his to rearrange the image .
“It would be a throwback to the days of ‘Citizen Kane’ when press barons used their newspapers to promote their favorite causes,” said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan business school.
Musk’s favorite idea is a Twitter that works the way he uses Twitter: no restrictions. He imagines a social network transformed by him into a model of expression without theoretical limits.
It’s actually same pitch that former President Donald J. Trump has for his app Truth Social. Several other social media sites also pledged to build internet gatherings without the arbitrary rules imposed by companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook. But those sites remain relatively small and unimportant compared to Twitter.
So Musk’s proposed purchase of Twitter would amount to a realistic experiment in a parallel social media app with no restrictions on what people can do or say. I don’t know what this looks like when applied.
Truth Social does not allow absolute free speech. Few people want their social media feeds to be clogged with cryptocurrency spam ads, terrorist solicitation pitches, or child harassment. No one knows for sure what a Twitter accountable to none other than Musk would be. (An intriguing question: would Musk? restore Trump’s Twitter account†
I also wonder if Musk really wants that to own Twitter. It’s fun to imagine what you would do if you were the boss of Twitter, but it’s not so much fun being the boss of Twitter. Look at Mark Zuckerberg who runs Facebook. That man doesn’t seem to be having fun.
“My guess is that Musk likes to be able to tell Twitter what to do and doesn’t care much if it’s actually done,” Bloomberg Opinion writer Matt Levine said in a statement on Tuesday. eerily prescient column†
If Twitter were owned solely by Musk, he wouldn’t have to worry about the vagaries of a stock price or the demands of shareholders, like Zuckerberg does. But that doesn’t mean Musk would be free from irritations.
When you own a powerful internet site, you may be on the receiving end of: threats from the Russian government to lock up your employees about posts they don’t like or a family member asking why a stalker is allowed to harass them in their private messages. Musk may not want to deal with the ugly details of owning a tool with global influence, but he wouldn’t have a choice if he were the sole owner of Twitter.
I want us to keep a little bit of pity for the executives and directors of Twitter. They are in an impossible situation. (Company said that the board would “carefully review” Musk’s proposal and decide what it believes is in the best interest of Twitter and its shareholders.)
Twitter’s board of directors would agree to Musk’s offer, and he may decide that finding the money to buy Twitter and turning it into an imagined haven for acquittal isn’t a great use of his money, time, and energy. is. Then Twitter would make a worthless takeover offer, the company’s stock price would most likely fall and angry shareholders would probably sue the board.
Twitter’s board could say no to Musk on the theory that the company has a long-term plan that would make it far more valuable than what Musk offers. In that case, Musk has said, he could sell the billions of dollars worth of Twitter stock he recently bought. Twitter’s stock price would most likely fall and angry shareholders would likely sue the board.
Twitter’s relatively new CEO, Parag Agrawal, might rather pull his toenails out than weeks of messy drama about Musk. Also, maybe it’s not great for Musk to carry on with messy drama over Twitter – although… OK, that is what he does in his leisure time.
What if Musk achieves what he thinks he wants? I won’t spoil the movie “Citizen Kane” if you haven’t seen it, but here’s the short version: Kane reached his wildest dreams and he was miserable.
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Before we go…
Good luck delivering Doritos in 30 minutes or less: My colleague Erin Woo writes about GoPuff, a start-up that kicked off the recent frenzy of services that operate and promise small urban warehouses bring items from the convenience store to people’s doorsteps in 30 minutes or less. GoPuff believes it has conquered the ghosts of Webvan and other companies that went bankrupt supplying fresh food to Americans. We will see.
You must share your W-2 and relinquish your privacy: The Washington Post reports on the personal information you may be asked to transfer to the tax return websites TurboTax and H&R Block, and how to say no to what are essentially requirements for personal information to sell you other products or show you advertisements. (A subscription may be required.)
Call your agent (the agent is TikTok): TikTok has become a way for music to find a large audience. But Rest of the World writes that the app’s parent company, ByteDance, also has a side gig in Brazil and Indonesia to discover new musicians and spread and promote their work — similar to what conventional music labels do.
Hug for this
The best animal security camera footage is a quirky duck† (Turn on the sound for maximum impact.)