Elon Musk, who poses as Twitter’s savior, will face widespread outcry if he thinks he will win widespread support for his $ 43bn hostile acquisition.
The world’s richest man has made some big claims to this week’s unsolicited approach. He promised that the partners would “love” the rich premium he was offering. He will bring back freedom of speech to one of the most important social media sites. And will change the management of a company that has gone astray.
With characteristic exaggeration, he presented his endeavor as a benefit to humanity. “The risk of civilization decreases, we can increase Twitter’s confidence as a public platform,” he said in an interview at a TED conference just hours after his attitude was revealed.
By all means, the claims often fell on deaf ears. Even before Twitter’s board expressed its opposition to taking the poison pill early Friday, shareholders cast their own vote of no confidence. Shares of Twitter fell nearly 2 percent in the news of the auction, signaling a decline in confidence on Wall Street.
“I would be very surprised if the Twitter board was willing to pay $ 54 for where the stock was six months ago,” said Rich Greenfield, a partner in Lightshet Consulting. As Musk appeared to be Twitter’s largest shareholder (the position he lost to Vanguard this week) he raised shares 38 percent earlier this month in the hope that he would be a catalyst for change. But his offer is 26 percent lower than it would have been in 12 months.
If Musk’s proposal is a shot in the arm, many investors are unaware of how serious he’s following – especially his once false claim that he was “financially secure” to take Tesla privately.
Feeding suspicion, Musk laughed when he took to the TED stage after his auction, then reopened the “financially secure” controversy by insisting he had the money. He said he only resolved one complaint from regulators because they supported him in a corner where Tesla was facing bankruptcy.
Going public with a hostile attitude to Twitter or having in-depth discussions with the group before he sponsors is a “very unusual” move, which has not made it easy for people to determine his true intentions, said Associate Professor Ann Lipton. Business Law and Entrepreneurship at Duleen University. Twitter’s directors are not only evaluating whether the price he offers is reasonable, but also whether he is willing to pay for it. Without funding, “he’s hard to believe,” he added.
Musk, meanwhile, sought to cover up his effort under the banner of free speech, and received a skeptical response from many experts who worked to keep the largest social media sites free of hate speech and misinformation. He said Twitter wants to end the secret system that makes some tweets favorable to others, and also wants to reduce the number of users being banned. “Time outs are better than permanent hurdles,” he said.
The declaration received half-hearted applause from Republican right-wingers, where a permanent ban against Donald Trump has become a symbol of Silicon Valley pro. But some have questioned how far Musk can go in challenging the broader practice of controlling content.
“Re-appointing Trump will be the ultimate litmus test,” said Jason Miller, a former senior Trump adviser. Without it, he said, “it’s all window decoration” – adding that it would be difficult for Twitter’s culture and its staff’s left-wing views to completely change the norm.
Among many experts, Musk’s claim that Twitter suppresses freedom of speech was dismissed as naive, failing to take into account years of efforts to weed out hate speech and misinformation.
Roger McNami, a Silicon Valley investor who campaigned against Facebook, said Twitter was facing a deep problem with its advertising business model, which “rewards serious talk.” This has forced it to combat waves of hate and misinformation, which in turn have led to alleged censorship, he and others have said.
In another move he said would improve freedom of speech, Musk said, revealing the mechanism for determining what users see on Twitter. “Having a black box algorithm is advertising some things, not other things,” he said.
However, most digital services keep their ranking algorithms confidential, and publishing Twitter makes it possible for users to “play the algorithm and manipulate content,” said Greg Sterling, co-founder and search and social expert at Near Media. The media. He added that this could cause particular problems as Twitter’s role in the political debate and some governments use it to publish official information.
According to some advertising experts and financial analysts, a strong commitment to free speech on Twitter will damage the company’s business by making its site less attractive to brand advertisers.
“It is not good for civilization to allow misrepresentation to spread under the guise of freedom of speech,” said Arun Kumar, chief data officer and technical officer for the IPG advertising team. Advertisers “do not want to be associated with fake news or hate speech,” he added.
Musk said this week that he did not invest in Twitter for economic reasons, suggesting that he should not be discouraged by such concerns. He also said in a tweet he deleted a week ago that his reliance on an advertising business model had exposed Twitter to “the power of corporations to dictate policy”.
But experts warn that relying on other business models, such as subscriptions to its revenue, will reduce the range of service. “There would be very little conversation if it was a payment platform,” Greenfield said.
Giving voice to the broader view, McNamy said that all the skepticism surrounding Musk’s attempt may be an attempt to attract attention rather than a concerted effort to control Twitter. Nevertheless, Musk never followed the usual course, and his enormous personal wealth and declared intention to take control of the company made it difficult for most critics to abandon his approach.
As Twitter digs in against its opening shot, it will soon be possible to see if the Wall Street Musk really has the desire and patience for a tug-of-war.