Volatile courtship until chaotic divorce in 3 months

Elon Musk had acquired 73.5 million Twitter shares at a cost of nearly $2.9 billion. (File)

San Francisco:

Elon Musk’s quest for Twitter has been a melodrama from start to finish — a leapfrog courtship between a cranky billionaire and the hugely influential social media platform.

That relationship — an apparent love-hate relationship on Musk’s part — now appears to be ending in a bitter divorce.

The courtship

It all started with an expensive first date: Musk — a longtime Twitter user known for inflammatory tweets — snapped up 73.5 million shares at a cost of nearly $2.9 billion.

The purchase, revealed in an April 4 regulatory filing and giving him a 9.2 percent stake in the company, sent Twitter shares soaring and sparked speculation that Musk may have an active role in the company’s operations social media company.

It also earned him a seat on the board. CEO Parag Agrawal announced the offer — in a tweet, of course — calling Musk “an ardent supporter and intense critic of the service, which is exactly what we need.”

But the honeymoon didn’t last long: Mr. Agrawal said on April 10 that Musk had decided against joining the board, a move the Twitter CEO felt was “for the best.”

Rather than amicably parting ways, Musk made a hostile takeover bid for the company, offering $54.20 per share, an April 13 filing showed.

After saying it would “carefully review” the offer, Twitter adopted a “poison pill” defense and announced a plan that would allow shareholders to buy additional shares.

The engagement

Then came plans for a tour of the company: Twitter reversed course, saying on April 25 that it was selling $44 billion to Musk.

But weddings can be expensive, so Musk took steps to defray expenses and sold $8.4 billion in electric-car maker Tesla. He pledged up to $21 billion from his personal fortune, with the rest being funded by debt.

Already planning his new life with Twitter, Musk said days later that he would lift the ban on Donald Trump imposed by supporters of the then-president after the January 2021 riots in the US Capitol.

The Separation

But Musk soon showed signs of cold feet, saying on May 13 that the deal to buy Twitter was “temporarily on hold” pending details of spam and fake accounts on the platform.

In early June, advocacy groups decided to speak up now rather than remain silent forever, launching a campaign to prevent Musk from making the purchase that would allow him to “give a megaphone to demagogues and extremists.”

Musk, meanwhile, accused Twitter of not providing data on fake accounts and threatened to withdraw his offer.

On June 16, however, he offered signs that the match was still okay and presented Twitter officials with a vision of a one-billion-user platform. But he has been vague on issues such as possible dismissals and restrictions on free speech.

It all came crashing down on July 8 when Musk called off the wedding and accused Twitter of making “misleading” claims about the number of fake accounts.

The separation between the billionaire and the social media platform should be anything but friendly.

The Twitter chairman tweeted that the company would take legal action to enforce the deal and staged an expensive showdown while the divorce goes to court.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)

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