SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Tesla CEO Elon Musk will not join Twitter’s board of directors as previously announced. The stormy billionaire remains Twitter’s largest shareholder.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted the news, which followed a weekend of Musk tweets suggesting possible changes to Twitter, including making the site ad-free. Almost 90% of Twitter’s 2021 revenue came from ads.
“Elon’s appointment to the board was formally scheduled to take effect on April 9, but Elon communicated that same morning that he would not be joining the board,” Agrawal wrote in a reposted note originally sent to Tesla employees. “I think that’s for the best.”
Agrawal offered no explanation for Musk’s apparent decision, though he did drop an important clue. The Twitter board “believed having Elon as a trustee of the company where he, like all board members, must act in the best interests of the company and all of our shareholders is the best way forward,” he wrote.
People also read…
Musk posted some cryptic tweets late Sunday, including one with a meme that read, “In all fairness, Your Honor, my client was in goblin mode,” followed by one that read, “Explains everything.” Another, later tweet showed a hand over mouth emoji.
He now has a 9% stake in Twitter, raising questions about how he might attempt to reshape the social media platform as Twitter’s largest shareholder.
Musk’s 80.5 million Twitter followers make him one of the most popular characters on the platform, rivaling pop stars like Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga. But his prolific tweeting has gotten him into trouble at times, such as when he’s used it to promote his business ventures, rally Tesla loyalists, question pandemic measures, and start fights.
In one famous example, Musk apologized to a British caver who claimed Tesla’s CEO had branded him a pedophile by calling him a “pedophile” in an angry — and subsequently deleted — tweet. The researcher filed a defamation lawsuit, although a Los Angeles jury later acquitted Musk.
He was also embroiled in a long-running dispute with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over his Twitter activities. Musk and Tesla agreed in 2018 to pay $40 million in fines and have Musk have his tweets approved by a company lawyer after he tweeted that he had the money to take Tesla privately for $420 per share take. That didn’t happen, but the tweet sent Tesla’s stock price skyrocketing. His attorney has claimed that the SEC is violating Musk’s rights to free speech.
Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” and said he doesn’t believe Twitter adheres to the principles of free speech — a view shared by supporters of Donald Trump and several right-wing politicians whose accounts have been suspended for violating the content rules from Twitter.
But what really fueled Musk’s Twitter engagement isn’t clear. Other concerns of the service include arguing to make Twitter’s algorithm visible to the public, expanding the availability of “verified” Twitter accounts, and blasting a profile photo initiative with non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
Musk has also called “crypto spam bots” that scan tweets for cryptocurrency-related keywords and then pose as customer support to drain users’ crypto wallets, the “most annoying problem on Twitter.”
Twitter’s CEO and other board members have praised Musk and suggested they might take his ideas seriously.
Agrawal’s first moves since acquiring co-founder Jack Dorsey in November have involved reorganizing departments without major changes. The company is long behind its social media competitors and has far fewer users.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.