Elon Musk is now Twitter’s largest shareholder


Jason Ryan, Staff

Elon Musk’s newly disclosed 9.2 percent stake in Twitter Inc. has made him the largest shareholder of the social media-company, topping out numerous financial institutions. To put into perspective, Musk’s shareholding is four times greater than that of Jack Dorsey, who stepped down as chief executive in November.

Musk’s purchase comes after a bout of criticism aimed at the social media company. The outspoken Tesla CEO polled people on Twitter last month about whether it adheres to free speech principles. He later said he himself was considering building a new social media platform. It is evident that was not the case. 

The news that Musk would be joining Twitter’s board of directors after becoming the platform’s largest shareholder sparked immediate speculation over how much the billionaire tech entrepreneur might shake up the social media company. Moreover, people speculated about how receptive the current board might be to having him on the team.

That being said, hours after his holding in the company was set public, Musk sought to launch a poll asking whether people want an edit button, something that has been long called for and perhaps something he personally wanted. In a tweet on Tuesday, Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal said, “through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board”, it seems Elon is already doing just that. 

Elon Musk

Elon Musk takes a 9.2 percent equity stake in the social-media company Twitter, exceeding large institutions and former CEO Jack Dorsey. Source: BBC News

On April 5, Twitter announced that it has been working on an edit button and that it will be rolled out soon to certain testers of the social media platform. In a later statement, Twitter executives announced that this feature and rollout are unrelated to Musk joining the board, although business critics and social media analysts are skeptical of this statement’s honesty.

Musk reported owning almost 73.5 million shares of Twitter as of March 14, according to a security filing Monday. Shares in the platform soared following Monday’s revelation that the Tesla founder had become the largest shareholder in the company. This means that stake has already grown in value and is now worth more than $3 billion.

According to a filing with the SEC, Musk’s term is set to expire in 2024. For his entire board term or 90 days after, Musk cannot be the beneficial owner of more than 14.9 percent of the company’s common stock outstanding.

It’s too soon to think about how much influence Musk will have as a director; however, social media expert Casey Newton points out that it is not the first time a big tech firm has gained a stance on Twitter. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer once bought a four percent share of the company “and essentially did nothing with it”.

Yes, it is too premature to say what Musk is do with this stake, but he recently called out Twitter for allegedly falling short of “free speech principles” and very recently asked users if they want an edit button feature. It is obvious Musk clearly intends to make his presence felt and heard around the social-media platform. It will be interesting to see what comes in the coming weeks. Will Musk push for more features within the platform? Or will he push for free speech and try to allow certain people back on twitter? Only time will tell.