Ending speculation making the rounds, Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, struck a deal Monday to buy Twitter for $44 billion, capping a saga complete with hostile takeover threats before delivering him personal control of one of the most influential social media platforms on the planet.
Twitter famously served as a megaphone for former US president Donald Trump before the platform banned him, and Musk — a self-proclaimed “free-speech absolutist” — has said he wants to reform what he sees as the platform’s over-zealous content moderation.
“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,” Musk said in a statement released by Twitter.
“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all humans.”
The publicly traded firm will now become a private company owned by Musk, who negotiated a purchase price of $54.20 per-share, Twitter said.
“Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important,” the company’s CEO Parag Agrawal said in a tweet.
Musk last week lined up around $46.5 billion in financing to make the purchase happen, and Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, predicted earlier in the day that since the board could not find another buyer, it would likely accept his offer.
“This basically put (their) back against the wall, they had to come to the negotiation table,” he said in an interview on CNBC.
On Wall Street, Twitter stock was trading 5.9 percent higher around 1915 GMT.
Reacting to the acquisition, Elon tweeted, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”