Elon Musk’s famed/lampooned $44 billion takeover of Twitter is finally complete after a half-year saga. Musk’s schizophrenic involvement with the company lurched from his potential launch of a competitor, to purchasing an enormous stake in the company and taking over a board seat, to suddenly being off the board and suggesting a friendly takeover… which then became kind of a hostile takeover… which he then tried to back out of… followed by what — kitchen sink PR stunts aside — is more than likely a begrudging acceptance of the deal to keep himself and his investors from getting schwacked in court.
Over the last six months the calculus of the deal has shifted heavily away from a can’t-lose bid to own a massively popular but financially/operationally troubled social media platform, and into Twitter’s favor. Musk has now admitted out loud to the press that he and his investors are massively overpaying for the bird app and playing a “long game.”
Musk tried to back out of the deal last summer as that calculus tipped out of his favor, citing Twitter’s supposed failure to disclose the extent of fake accounts on the platform (which is funny, because the enormity of this problem was precisely the thing Elon said he wanted to buy the company to fix, in addition to turning his “free-speech-absolutism” loose on a host of banned accounts, hate speech, and calls for violence). But Twitter sued him for it and he ultimately relented.
There’s a theory that Donald Trump ran for President as a years-long publicity campaign for the media company he wanted to start, and found himself unpleasantly surprised and inconvenienced to find himself actually winning and having to run the country for four long years.
Musk is very likely finding himself in a similar situation. His initial bid for Twitter presented financial terms where the game was his to lose. But now, with his Tesla stock (which is his primary collateral on the deal) down 25% since April, Musk is going to have to do something he’s never really done before: make a company profitable without relying on Federal welfare.