Elon Musk promises more drama, says next Twitter board meeting will be ‘lit’

In recent months, the world’s richest person has gone from one of the loudest voices on Twitter to the biggest shareholder and member of the company’s board of directors. This transition has left employees and analysts guessing about Musk’s plans for the $37 billion company. It also shines a light on Twitter’s rather silent board, which will now have to deal with the famed mercurial businessman.

“He launched rockets into space. And helped solve the global energy crisis,” said Matt Navarra, social media consultant and industry analyst. “He’s about to find out that tackling content moderation on social media platforms is more difficult than those two things.

Musk will be an unusual addition to the Twitter board. He’s no expert in advertising, which is how Twitter makes money, and he’s used to tangling with regulators, which is a constant concern for any major social media platform. . Jack Dorsey, former chief executive of Twitter, is expected to step down from the board later this year when his term expires. Unlike Dorsey and Musk, the other 10 board members keep relatively low profiles. They don’t tweet as often, and no one tweeted at all.

Twitter shares have jumped more than 17% since Musk disclosed his holdings, a sign investors believe he will have both the tilt and the clout to help the company achieve its growth goals ambitious. Last year, under pressure from activist investor Elliott Management Corp., Twitter set a goal of reaching 315 million daily active users and doubling revenue by the end of 2023.

But some analysts doubt the type of ad that follows Musk is good for Twitter. “This acquisition doesn’t change what Twitter needs,” said Tom Forte, senior research analyst at DA Davidson. “She’s increasing her stature and profile, but that’s not where Twitter failed.”

Twitter’s leadership history so far is checkered. Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, began his second term as CEO in 2015, when the board consisted of mostly Silicon Valley insiders and just one woman. He pushed to diversify Twitter’s directors, and the following year the company replaced two early investors on its board with PepsiCo Inc. executive Hugh Johnston and Martha Lane Fox, a British internet entrepreneur. . In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said, “We have been open about the need to diversify our board, and that commitment continues. The company has added two female members over the past two years.

In 2020, as Twitter’s share price languished, activist investor Elliott Management targeted the company, and Dorsey in particular. Elliott lobbied for Dorsey’s ouster, complaining that he also ran Square, another public company. In March 2020, Elliott served on Twitter’s board, as did private equity firm Silver Lake. Elliott was represented by Jesse Cohn (who left last year) and Silver Lake by Egon Durban. Dorsey appeared to have gotten a reprieve, but in 2021 he stepped down as CEO, handing over the reins to Parag Agarwal, Twitter’s chief technologist. At the same time, Salesforce.com Inc. executive Bret Taylor became chairman of the board.

Despite all this upheaval, the most chaotic era of consulting may yet be ahead. Musk’s “appointment to Twitter’s board is very likely to generate controversy and theatrics,” Navarra said.

Musk, 50, dropped some clues about his plans on Twitter. Since Jan. 31, when he quietly began acquiring Twitter stock, Musk has criticized the company for “failing to uphold the principles of free speech.” More recently, he promised that Twitter’s next board meeting would “be on.” He added an image showing him smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan’s podcast, an incident that prompted Pentagon scrutiny. (Musk also runs Space Exploration Technologies Corp., a government contractor.)

Some analysts expect Musk to play an active role in Twitter’s product development and policy changes, including, potentially, his decision to permanently remove Donald Trump from the platform in 2021. (Facebook and YouTube have temporarily frozen the former president’s account.) Musk “could try to convince the company to take a little more time with content moderation,” said Ali Mogharabi, senior equity analyst at Morningstar Investment Service, which has predicts the billionaire would push to reactivate Trump’s account, but it’s unclear how much power Musk might wield over the move as a lone board member controlling about a tenth of the company.

Several Twitter employees have expressed concern about Musk’s stances on content moderation, as well as allegations of racism at a Tesla factory. The employees asked not to be identified while discussing information about a private company. Another Twitter staffer called those upset with Musk’s nomination a “strong minority.” Most people on Twitter learned that Musk would get a seat on the board just minutes before the move was publicly announced, according to several people at the company. Musk will take questions directly from employees when he joins Agrawal at a general company meeting next week.

Going forward, staffers can get a more detailed look at decision-making on Twitter via Musk’s own feed. Boards of directors often limit the amount of words their members can talk about the company and “often have codes of conduct and confidentiality agreements,” said Karen Brenner, executive director of legal and business initiatives at the New York University business school. But those constraints probably won’t work for Musk, Brenner said. “He showed that he believed he could speak as freely as he wanted and flout all the rules in place.”

Whatever mysteries surround Musk’s plans for Twitter, they likely won’t remain mysterious for long.

This story was published from a news feed with no text edits. Only the title has been changed.

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