Elon Musk, an iconoclastic billionaire with a stable of firms ranging from electric automobiles to private rocket ships, has become the world’s richest person by developing a fortune firmly anchored in 21st-century technology. Musk may soon follow in the footsteps of prior tycoons by controlling a media platform that helped him rise to popularity, thanks to an all-cash $43 billion deal to buy Twitter Inc (TWTR.N).
In a regulatory filing made public on Thursday, Musk, the CEO of electric car firm Tesla (TSLA.O), unveiled the takeover proposal and said he would take Twitter private.
Being the owner of Twitter would be the next step in the evolution of a divisive figure. Musk has earned the admiration and ire of Wall Street by combining the free-flowing obsessions of aerospace visionary Howard Hughes with an intense focus on revolutionizing auto production akin to Henry Ford, resulting in a new model of a billionaire who is as likely to take on short-sellers as he is to shoot a red luxury sports car into orbit, as he did in 2018.
His Twitter content has been the subject of a long-running legal struggle with the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States. After tweeting that he had “financing secured” to take Tesla private, Musk agreed to a 2018 settlement with the government that required him to get pre-approval on some Twitter statements. The SEC said Musk deceived investors, despite the fact that Musk made no admissions or indicated his innocence in the deal. The SEC has since been accused of “unrelenting harassment” by Musk.
“Twitter is inextricably linked to Musk’s worldwide reach, which is why he is so enthusiastic about it,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “However, for the Twitter board, this is a nightmare because they have to deal with litigation every day unless they want to eat them for breakfast.”