The world’s richest man has a few tricks up his sleeve should Twitter’s board of directors reject his $43 billion offer to buy the company.
Elon Musk says he has a backup plan for taking over Twitter. Musk spoke with Head of TED Chris Anderson during Session 11 of the TED2022 conference on April 14. Anderson asked Musk: “If in this case you’re not successful in that the board does not accept your offer — you've said you won’t go higher —is there a ‘plan B?’”
After four seconds of deep silence, Musk simply answered “There is,” drawing laughter and applause from the crowd. When asked to elaborate, Musk said he would reveal the backup “another time, I think.” There’s more than one way to pluck Twitter, and Musk apparently has a variety of options at his disposal.
The Verge on April 15 reported that Twitter’s board of directors issued a new “shareholder rights plan” — a so-called “poison pill” — to “block Elon Musk’s proposed buyout offer.” The story said this was “a major setback to the billionaire’s efforts to take full financial control of the company.”
Musk spoke more candidly in the interview about the importance of free speech in public discourse. “A good sign as to whether there is free speech is, is someone you don't like allowed to say something you don't like?” he said. “If that is the case, then we have free speech.” Musk explained. “It's damn annoying when someone you don't like says something you don't like. That is a sign of a healthy, functioning free speech situation.”
Musk noted that speech on Twitter is critical to the political process itself: “It’s important to the function of democracy. It’s important to the function of the United States as a free country and many other countries, and to help — actually to help — freedom in the world, more broadly than the US.” He added later that “civilizational risk is decreased” if users can trust Twitter as a fair platform.
Musk famously slammed Twitter for censoring political debate in recent weeks. He also mulled starting a new tech company. Musk tweeted March 26, “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.”
One day before that, he tweeted that free speech is “essential” for democracy to run well. He shared a poll to his followers in the same tweet asking whether they believe Twitter rigorously adheres to a free-speech standard. An overwhelming 70.4 percent of users who responded answered, “No.”
Musk already showed he’s willing to stand for free speech amid the war in Ukraine:
Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint. Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.
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