US: Elon Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter for roughly US$ 44 billion on Monday, promising a more lenient touch to policing content on the platform where he promotes his interests, attacks critics and opines on social and economic issues to more than 83 million followers.
The outspoken Tesla CEO, who is also the world’s wealthiest person, has said he wanted to buy and privatize Twitter because he thinks it’s not living up to its potential as a platform for free speech.
Musk said in a joint statement with Twitter that he wants to make the service “better than ever” with new features, such as getting rid of automated “spam bots” and making its algorithms open to the public to increase trust.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said.
The deal was cemented roughly two weeks after the billionaire first revealed a 9% stake in the platform. Mr. Musk said last week that he had lined up US$46.5 billion in financing to buy Twitter, putting pressure on the company’s board to negotiate a deal.
Twitter said the transaction was unanimously approved by its board of directors. The 11-member board includes Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, who has been planning to step down from the board in May.
Musk has described himself as a “free-speech absolutist” but is also known for blocking or disparaging other Twitter users who question or disagree with him.
Musk is the world’s wealthiest person, according to Forbes, with a nearly US$279 billion fortune. But much of his money is tied up in Tesla stock — he owns about 17% of the electric car company, according to FactSet, which is valued at more than US$1 trillion — and SpaceX, his privately held space company. It’s unclear how much cash Musk has.
– THE HINDU