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Twitter grapples with an Elon Musk problem

Musk could, if he chose, buy more shares of Twitter and increase his ownership of the company.

Written by Mike Isaac and Kate Conger

Bright and early on Monday, Elon Musk sent the government a surprising new document.

In it, the world’s wealthiest man laid out his possible intentions toward Twitter, in which he has amassed a 9.2% stake, underlining how drastically his position had changed from a week ago.

Musk could, if he chose, buy more shares of Twitter and increase his ownership of the company, according to the document, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He could freely express his views about Twitter on social media or other channels, the document noted. And he reserved the right to “change his plans at any time, as he deems appropriate.”

It was a promise — or perhaps it was a threat. Either way, the filing encapsulated the treacherous situation that Twitter now finds itself in. Musk, 50, Twitter’s largest shareholder and one of its highest-profile users, could very well use the social media platform against itself and even buy enough shares to take over the company.

“Twitter has always suffered more than its fair share of dysfunction,” said Jason Goldman, who was on Twitter’s founding team and served on its board of directors in the past. “But at least we weren’t being actively trolled by prospective board members using the product we created.”

The filing followed a week of high-stakes drama between the billionaire and the company. On April 4, Twitter revealed that Musk had accumulated stock, now worth more than $3 billion, in the company. A day later, he was invited onto Twitter’s 11-person board and agreed to not own more than 14.9% of the company or take it over. Then on Sunday, Twitter abruptly said that all those bets were off and that Musk would not become a director.

Inside Twitter on Monday, employees were dismayed and concerned by Musk’s antics, according to half a dozen current and former workers, who were not authorized to speak publicly. After the billionaire suggested over the weekend that Twitter convert its headquarters into a homeless shelter because “no one shows up anyway,” employees questioned how Musk would know that given that he hadn’t visited the building in some time. They also pointed out that Musk, whose net worth has been pegged at more than $270 billion, could easily afford to help San Francisco’s homeless himself.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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