After filings were published online, Elon Musk has now confirmed that he has offered to buy Twitter for about $41 billion in cash, with the intention of making the company private. The billionaire is offering $54.20 per share – a significant price increase over the value the shares had on April 1, when Musk's substantial stake in the company was revealed.
Musk's acquisition of 9.2 percent of shares early this month has since seen him being sued by Twitter shareholders due to having made "materially false and misleading statements and omissions" in delaying the announcement of his investment in the social media company by March 24 – something that is required under federal law.
The Musk-Twitter saga also saw Musk being offered a seat on the board of Twitter before the Chief Executive Parag Agrawal announced he would not be joining after all.
Some speculated that it had something to do with his offer being contingent on a "background check" mentioned in Agrawal's statement, some linked it to the previous troubles that Musk had with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which led to a fine of $20 million in 2018 following a tweet about Tesla stocks that sparked a federal investigation. It appears that a seat on the Twitter board came with a maximum share allowance of 15 percent of the company, a value that Musk believed to be too low.
It is unclear at this stage if Twitter will actually accept the offer, but Musk has threatened to sell off his shares if it's not accepted.
"Since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company," Musk stated in his letter to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor.
"My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder."
Musk has claimed his interest in Twitter is because he's a "Free Speech Absolutist" – a catchy title that has little substance behind it – and people should be allowed to say what they like on platforms like Twitter without retribution. Freedom of speech, however, is not and has never been absolute. While freedom of speech is enshrined in the laws of many countries as the liberty to express their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction from governments, there are still limitations on it.
Examples of these are perjury, libel, slander, hate speech, and revealing state secrets, plus copyright violations, trade secrets, and non-disclosure agreements. These last few examples should be appreciated by Musk as a businessman involved in futuristic technology.
The right to privacy, dignity, the right to be forgotten, and public security, are also rights that trump freedom of speech. And while Twitter is considered a public forum, it is run by a private company that can decide the terms and conditions for users to take part in it. It currently includes rules that don't allow for some forms of hate speech, targeted harassment, and misinformation.