Monday, April 25, 2022

Elon Musk Buys Twitter (VIDEO)

I'm just tickled by this. The funniest thing is I had no doubts he'd take over the company. Turns out it was just a matter of arranging financing, and for a guy like than, how hard could that be? 

What's even more hilarious, of course, is the left's reaction to the buyout. Twitter itself is in meltdown mode. Folks on the right are gloating, rolling over laughing on the floor. Folks on the left are panicking, literally not sure what they're going to do now that their Twitter power has been zapped by a force more powerful than kryptonite. 

It's glorious. 

I never moved to Trump's Truth Social. I dismissed all the others as wannabee's, Gab, Parler, Gettr, or whatever. I'm sure they can generate some good discussions or whatever, but they can't claim to be the "digital town square," not just at home, but globally. Until someone beats Twitter at that scale, attracting even more users, I don't see a credible substitute. 

It's an amazing thing, truly a phenomenal thing. And frankly, as shocking and stupendous is all of this, not much is likely to change. In terms of censorship (and free speech), frankly at the granular level, Musk's ownership might not make much difference. As Megan McArdle points out, "No matter what new policies Musk sets, there will be gray areas. And it is Twitter's progressive workforce, not Elon Musk, who will be making the calls in those gray areas."

In any case, lots of loz at Twitchy. See, "Brian Stelter’s alarmed by ‘total freedom for everybody’ after Elon Musk buys Twitter," and "Build your own: Sounds like Robert B. Reich wants to leave Twitter and keep his followers, is haunted by old tweets."

Plus, the fear is palpable, "NBC News reporter who covers ‘extremism and lies’ for a living says you’re not going to like where Twitter is headed."

In any case, at A.P., "Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44B and will take it private." 

More, at the video below, Kara Swisher, New York Times tech maven reporter, spurts the truth to make leftists very unhappy. 

And the Los Angeles Times, "Elon Musk reaches $44-billion deal to buy Twitter":

Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter and take the company private succeeded on Monday, 11 days after the world’s wealthiest man first announced that he’d like to buy the social media firm.

After days of back and forth, Twitter’s board approved Musk’s approximately $44 billion offer Monday.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement announcing the deal. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

The company’s leadership initially tried to fend off the bid, adopting a “poison pill” measure that would make a hostile takeover difficult.

But Musk announced that he had $46.5 billion in financing lined up in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, prompting Twitter’s board to meet on Sunday to discuss the bid. Following that meeting, the board opened negotiations with Musk that stretched late into the night, according to reporting by the New York Times.

The deal values Twitter stock at around $54 per share, above the $39 per share that the stock was trading at before Musk’s interest in the company became clear in early April, when he purchased a 9% stake in the company, but also well below the stock’s 2021 high of $77 per share.

Musk stated that his interest in Twitter is motivated not by the company’s finances but by its role as a public forum and his belief that he could manage the platform better than its current leadership.

“Having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” Musk said at a public interview on April 14, a day after he first announced his offer to buy the company. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”

He elaborated on this theme in his SEC filing, writing: “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” and that he believes “the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form.”

Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has become one of the core companies of the social media age — but it has had a difficult time becoming a profitable business and has been a site of explosive disagreement over the moderation of online speech.

Founded by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Noah Glass and Biz Stone as a site that allowed users to post 140-character messages using SMS texting, Twitter experienced its first surge of interest after a presentation at the 2007 SXSW festival in Texas.

The next few years brought explosive growth. In 2011, the company announced it had 100 million monthly active users. By the time Twitter went public, in 2013, that number had doubled to more than 200 million people using the platform every month.

But Twitter could not sustain that rate of expansion. While Facebook, Instagram and upstart platform TikTok rocketed past Twitter to more than a billion users in the past decade, Twitter hit a plateau. The company counted 300 million monthly users in 2019 before switching its reported metrics. Now it has 217 million monetizable daily active users, per its latest corporate filings.

Under a series of chief executives, Twitter did figure out how to squeeze more money out of those users. Revenue grew from $1.4 billion in 2014 public to over $5 billion in 2021. But the company only booked a profit in 2018 and 2019, and returned to losing money in the past two years.

Even as its user growth stagnated, however, Twitter became the go-to platform for journalists and politicians, a volatile combination that has turned it into one of the key battlegrounds in the fight over online harassment, the limits of public speech and the power of tech companies.

Nowhere was the battle hotter than in the debate around banning former President Trump from the platform...