He’s used Twitter to poll people apparently to make major business decisions. He’s had his hand figuratively slapped (more than once) by regulators over how he’s used the social platform to potentially manipulate the markets. And he’s even said he’s wanted to build a social platform of his own, since owning a digital mouthpiece seems to be the mogul’s (and autocrat’s) current version of having your own super-yacht.
Now Elon Musk is putting some of his money where his mouth has been for years. Today, Twitter published a note confirming that the SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur has taken a 9.2% share of the company, working out to around $2.9 billion based on Friday’s share price.
The confirmation of the share purchase — which was rumored last week — sent Twitter’s stock soaring; it’s currently some 23% above its Friday closing price ahead of the opening of the market.
The filing, signed and dated today by Musk, notes that the share event was actually on March 14. Specifically, it noted that he had purchased 73,486,938 shares of common stock on that date.
The date is notable, in that it predates by about 14 days Musk’s tweets claiming he was giving “serious thought” to the idea of starting his own social network. One takeaway is it seems he was teasing the real news here — his taking a stake in Twitter — to his base. Once a troll, always a troll.
Since starting a social network from scratch is a long play, and has absolutely no guarantee to succeed, Musk’s version of building may be starting now, in the form of building a stake in an already-established company — a platform where he’s established himself as a power user, no less.
Those who love Musk have relished the chance on Twitter to tweet at him in hopes of a reply and to religiously follow his words on all things from cryptocurrency and his companies to world affairs. His critics have decried how he apparently manipulates situations, sometimes just for kicks, using the platform. As for Musk himself, he’s hard to pin down, but largely comes off as Libertarian in his approach. That position is underscored by this new interest that he has taken in being a social media entrepreneur — not just a user — with a focus on so-called “free speech.”
Some have reported that these shares effectively will make Musk Twitter’s largest sole shareholder. What that might mean for Twitter, for Musk, and for the world of reasonable people who are not fanboys of the guy remains to be seen. We’ve reached out to the company to confirm that detail and will update when we learn more.