Published on : Modified :
Twitter stock soared on Monday after Elon Musk, the richest man on the planet, acquired more than 73 million shares. A great user of the social network but also critical of its operation, the boss of SpaceX thus becomes the first shareholder of the platform. According to experts, this spectacular stake could mean a desire on the part of Elon Musk to play an active role in the company.
A shareholder like no other for Twitter: Elon Musk, boss of the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and the space flight company SpaceX, launched Twitter into orbit on Monday, April 4, after the announcement of a major stake in the social network that he accuses of restricting freedom of expression.
At 12:15 GMT, the action of the microblogging site soared about 20%, to 47.21 dollars, in electronic trading before the opening of Wall Street.
According to a document filed with the SEC, the American stock market regulator, Elon Musk, who is the richest man on the planet, acquired nearly 73.5 million shares of Twitter common stock, or 9.2% of the stock market value of the company.
This makes him the largest shareholder in the group ahead of the investment fund Vanguard (8.8%) and the bank Morgan Stanley (8.4%), according to data from Bloomberg.
Based on Friday’s closing price of Twitter’s stock, the South African-born billionaire’s investment is nearly $2.9 billion.
Twitter ‘fundamentally undermines democracy’, says Elon Musk
Elon Musk speaks very frequently on the platform, where he has just over 80 million subscribers. His announcements on the tweet network frequently arouse controversy.
In the summer of 2018, he notably published a tweet where he claimed to have the appropriate funding to withdraw Tesla from the New York Stock Exchange, without providing proof.
After an unfortunate new publication in early 2019, he agreed to have his posts directly related to the electric vehicle maker’s business pre-cleared by the SEC. The leader had also given up his position as chairman of the board of directors of Tesla.
At the beginning of March, however, Elon Musk asked a New York judge to cancel the agreement made with the stock market policeman over his tweets, claiming through his lawyer that the SEC was seeking to “harass Tesla and silence Mr. . Musk”.
The billionaire boss is also critical of the measures put in place by Twitter to moderate certain content deemed inappropriate.
At the end of March, Elon Musk published two polls on the social network, one to ask his followers if they thought that the Twitter algorithm should be in open source code (“open source”), the other to know whether they felt the company respected freedom of expression. Voters overwhelmingly answered “yes” to the first poll and “no” to the second.
“Given that Twitter acts as a de facto public square, its failure to adhere to the principles of free speech fundamentally undermines democracy,” the Tesla boss tweeted after the results. “Is a new platform necessary?” he asked.
A “passive” participation?
Twitter is regularly accused of censorship by many conservative voices in the United States, especially since the suspension of Donald Trump’s account last year. Like Facebook and YouTube, the blue bird network believes that the former president encouraged his supporters to violence before the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. In response to his ouster, Donald Trump launched its own platform, Truth Social, in February.
In the document sent to the SEC (entitled “Schedule 13G”), Elon Musk specifies that his stake, less than 10% of the ordinary shares, is passive, that is to say that he does not count. influence the company’s major strategic decisions. But this entry into the capital could be the prelude to a more active role within the company, believe some experts.
“We expect this passive participation to mark the beginning of deeper discussions with Twitter’s management and board, which may lead to active participation and potentially more aggressive ownership,” Dan said in a note. Ives of Westbush Securities.
Contacted by AFP, Twitter did not react immediately.