Elon Musk is buying a 9.2% stake in Twitter worth $2.9 billion. The Tesla CEO purchased 73.5 million shares, according to a regulatory filing Monday.
Musk has been raising questions about the ability to communicate freely on Twitter, tweeting last month about free speech and the social media platform.
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” he tweeted.
In a separate tweet, Musk said that he was “giving serious thought” to creating a new social media platform.
Also last month, Musk asked a federal judge to nullify a subpoena from securities regulators and throw out a 2018 court agreement in which Musk had to have someone pre-approve his posts on Twitter.
Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, thinks Musk may eventually seek to buy large piece of Twitter, which would give him more leverage to push for change at the company.
“[I]t looks like Elon has his eyes laser set on Twitter, and we would expect this passive stake as just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake and a potential more aggressive ownership role of Twitter,” he said in a note. “For Tesla purposes, we view this move as Musk just further building out his tentacles, and we are not worried in any way around Musk ‘taking his eye off the ball’ with Tesla/SpaceX.”
Twitter could be acquisition target
In a note to investors, CFRA Analyst Angelo Zino wrote that although Musk’s intent is unclear, Twitter could be viewed as an acquisition target because the value of its shares have been falling since early last year.
Twitter’s stock surged 26% in pre-market trading, to $49.50, after the company disclosed Musk’s stake. The shares have dropped 38% over the last year.
Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO in November. Musk’s stake in Twitter more than four times the size of Dorsey’s, who co-founded the company and was the largest individual shareholder until Musk arrived.
“Musk’s actual investment is a very small percentage of his wealth, and an all-out buyout should not be ruled out,” wrote Zino, who covers Twitter and social media.
Musk is the richest person in the world, with a fortune worth $273 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.