Tesla founder Elon Musk is buying Twitter for $44 billion as the platform takes steps to prevent disgruntled employees from ‘departing’.

Elon Musk on Monday inked a deal to buy Twitter Inc for $44 billion in cash, in a transaction that will transfer control of the social media platform populated by millions of users and global leaders to the richest person in the world.

The deal has raised concerns about the platform’s direction, which Musk says it will use to promote “freedom of speech.” US Republicans have cheered the move, with speculation that former President Donald Trump and other banned activists will be reinstated, despite Trump having said he will not return.

The company has “locked down” minor changes to the platform to prevent disgruntled employees from trying to sabotage it.

It’s a landmark moment for the 16-year-old company that has grown into one of the most influential public spaces in the world and now faces a number of challenges.

Discussions over the deal, which seemed uncertain last week, accelerated over the weekend after Musk wooed Twitter shareholders with financing details of his bid.

Under pressure, Twitter began negotiating with Musk to buy the company at the proposed price of $54.20 per share.

“Freedom of expression is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital marketplace where matters important to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement.

Musk celebrated with his first tweet since the deal was announced.

Shares rose 6% to $51.90 after the news. The deal represents a nearly 40% premium to the closing price the day before Musk announced he’d bought a more than 9% stake. Even so, the bid is below the $70 range that Twitter traded in last year.

On Monday, Musk told his more than 80 million followers that the company has tremendous potential and he wants to improve it by adding new features, open-sourcing algorithms to boost trust and defeat spam bots.

“I think if the company had been given enough time to transform, we would have made a lot more than Musk is currently offering,” said Jonathan Boyar, chief executive officer of Boyar Value Group, which owns a stake in Twitter.

However, he added, “This transaction reinforces our belief that when public markets fail to value a company appropriately, an acquirer eventually will.”

Musk’s move continues a tradition of billionaires grabbing control of influential media platforms, including Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of the New York Post in 1976 and the Wall Street Journal in 2007, and Jeff Bezos’ 2013 acquisition of the Washington Post.

The transaction has been approved by the Board of Directors and is now subject to a shareholder vote. According to analysts, no regulatory hurdles are expected.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said the company’s board had its back “against the wall” as Musk detailed his funding package and no other bidders or white knights emerged.

In a prepared statement, the company said Musk has secured $25.5 billion in debt and margin loan financing and provided $21 billion in equity.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the break-up fee would be or who would run the new company.

Twitter’s prominence as a mouthpiece for politicians, political dissidents, and activists belies its relatively small size.

Despite being only about a tenth the size of far larger social media platforms like Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook, it is credited with spawning the Arab Spring insurgency and accused of playing a role in storming the Arab Spring dated January 6, 2021 US Capitol.

After Twitter suspended former President Donald Trump over concerns about his supporters inciting violence after last year’s attack on the US Capitol, Musk tweeted, “A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as a de facto -Arbitrator of Freedom of Speech.”

Republicans on Monday cheered news of Musk’s possible acquisition of Twitter and bet on Trump’s reinstatement on the service.

Trump, whose company is building a rival to Twitter called Truth Social, said he will not return to Twitter, according to a Fox News interview.

Trump told Fox News that he will officially join his own Truth Social startup in the next seven days as planned.

“I’m not going on Twitter, I’m going to stick to the truth,” Trump told Fox News. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he will make improvements on it and he is a good man, but I will stand by the truth,” Trump said.

The White House declined to comment on Musk’s deal Monday, but said President Joe Biden has long been concerned about the power of social media platforms. “Our concerns are not new,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, adding that platforms must be held accountable. “The President has spoken at length about his concerns about the power of social media platforms, including Twitter and others, to spread misinformation.”

Twitter blocked changes to its social networking platform until Friday after accepting Musk’s $44 billion offer, making it harder for employees to make unauthorized changes, according to people familiar with the matter.

Currently, Twitter doesn’t allow product updates unless they’re business-critical.

Product changes require approval by a vice president, the people said. Twitter imposed the temporary ban to discourage employees who may be upset about the deal from “going rogue,” according to one of the people.

The move underscores Twitter’s bumpy path as it transitions from a public company to a private company owned by the controversial billionaire. Many of the company’s employees were excited about the idea of ​​Musk taking charge and what changes might be to come.

Musk, 50, is a prolific tweeter and has shared many ideas for the platform, including everything from adding an edit button to turning Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter.

Twitter has previously frozen its code before major events like the Super Bowl to ensure continuity across the platform and prevent bugs from occurring.

https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/tesla-founder-elon-musk-to-buy-twitter-for-44bn-as-platform-takes-steps-to-stop-disgruntled-employees-going-rogue-41586733.html Tesla founder Elon Musk is buying Twitter for $44 billion as the platform takes steps to prevent disgruntled employees from ‘departing’.

Fry Electronics Team

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