Days after the announcement that he was joining the Twitter board, Elon Musk declined the opportunity on Saturday, April 9. In a major reversal, Elon said no to the Twitter board, the reason for which is still unknown. Parag Agarwal, CEO, of Twitter, made both the announcements. However, would Elon’s refusal to join the Twitter board impact Twitter? Let’s try to decode.
Free Speech principle
While Elon Musk isn’t a board member, he still has the highest stake of 9.1% and is the largest shareholder in Twitter. With his seat on the board, he could have made Twitter follow free speech principle which a bunch of other personalities failed to do so and got their accounts suspended as a result.
This is because Musk defines himself as a “free speech absolutist” and while he may not be a board member, Parag Agarwal says that Twitter would be open to his inputs as he’s the largest shareholder of the company. Moreover, he is one of the most prominent personalities on Twitter with over 81 million followers, making him a strong stakeholder.
Other possible outcomes apart from Musk making Twitter more of a free-speech oriented platform could include him cashing out. He may sell all his shares and return to the love-hate relationship with the platform where he continues to criticise the platform. This could give him more time to focus on his own companies such as Tesla.
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Secondly, Musk without being a board members or without a change in his stake could remain an influential shareholder. As we all know, he already has his opinions about the platform and considering he has a say in the decisions Twitter makes for its platform, Musk could promote free speech even further on the platform.
Rendezvous with Crypto
Elon Musk has labeled cryptocurrency spambots Twitter’s “single most annoying problem,” and he could work towards making the platform a better place for the users. However, a Twitter spokesperson told The Times that although the board “plays an important advisory and feedback role … day to day operations and decisions are made by Twitter management and employees”.
Thirdly, Musk could double down on his shares as he no longer has a capping of 15% ownership which he would have had if he was a board member. Musk filed an updated SEC form recently which reiterates that after he denied Twitter’s offer to join the board, he “may, from time to time, acquire additional shares of Common Stock” in the company. This way, Elon Musk could exert his control on leadership in Twitter more directly. Considering he’s already against Twitter’s content moderation policies as these stand as a roadblock in Musk’s vision of a free-speech platform, he could then align Twitter to follow his vision, which could create unnecessary chaos amongst employees.
Matt Levine from Bloomberg wrote Monday, “if Musk wants to change how Twitter operates, he can get a meeting with Agrawal whenever he wants, and ask for whatever he wants. If Agrawal says no, he can threaten to buy more stock and take over the company”.
Building a competitor
Lastly, we cannot rule out the possibility of him building a competitor of Twitter which will run and function the way he wants. He already has the financial capacity to buy Twitter six times over so we all know what kind of a platform he could build with his free-speech mindset. He already hinted back in March towards creating a Twitter competitor.