Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and the world’s wealthiest man, has now become the biggest shareholder of Twitter Inc after obtaining a 9.2% stake in the company, by purchasing approximately 73.5 million shares.
The share price of Twitter saw a rise of as much as 27% following the disclosure of the news on Monday through a regulatory filing.
Interestingly, this comes a few days after Musk, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” had taken to Twitter to criticise the social networking platform’s free speech policy. On March 25, Musk, who has 80.4 million followers on Twitter, had put up a poll stating, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?”
After 70.4% voted in the negative, Musk further asked on March 26, if there was a need for a new platform and also said, “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?”
However, as per the regulatory filing, Musk bought his shares in the company on March 14.
“Given Elon’s prior comments about wanting to start a social media company, I would say it’s possible that he will increase his stake in Twitter or take a controlling interest in the company sometime soon,” said Tom Forte, an analyst at DA Davidson & Co.
“We would expect this passive stake as just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake; more aggressive ownership role of Twitter,” wrote Dan Ives, tech analyst at Wedbush Securities.
This move also comes amidst Musk’s ongoing legal battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has reportedly been monitoring his Twitter posts. In a court filing, Musk mentioned that the SEC’s oversight seemed “calculated to chill his exercise of free speech.”
Earlier, when Jack Dorsey resigned from his post of CEO of Twitter in November 2021 and announced that Parag Agrawal would take over, Musk had shared a meme on the social networking platform that depicted the latter as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and Dorsey as Soviet secret police head Nikolai Yezhov being pushed into the water.
Hours after the news of Musk becoming Twitter’s biggest shareholder broke, he ran another poll on the platform, asking “Do you want an edit button?” which as of Tuesday, has 74% answering in the positive.
The edit button feature on Twitter has been a point of contention among users of the platform for a long time. A recent tweet from the company said, “we are working on an edit button.” However, it is to be noted that this tweet came on April Fool’s Day, which is customarily celebrated with pranks and practical jokes.