How Elon Musk hurt Twitter and left it worse

SAN FRANCISCO – For years, Twitter was a second-to-none social media company. It hasn’t evolved to the size and scope of Facebook or Instagram. It is simply messy.

Then, Elon Musk, the powerful user of the service, broke in. He offered $44 billion to buy Twitter and announced that the company could do much better if he were responsible. He has belittled Twitter executives, mocked content policies, complained about the product and confused more than 7,000 employees with his comments. as mr. Musk revealed the company’s lack of business and financial prospects, and Twitter’s stock fell more than 30 percent.

Now, like mr. Musk, the billionaire, is trying to undo the mega-deal, leaving Twitter relentlessly worse than when he said he was going to buy it. With every poignant tweet and public mockery, Mr. Musk has eroded trust in the social media company, eroding employee morale, intimidating potential advertisers, emphasizing your financial hardships and spreading misinformation about how Twitter works.

“His involvement with Twitter has made a huge impact on the company,” said Jason Goldman, a member of Twitter’s founding team who also served on its board. “Employees, advertisers, and the market in general cannot have a conviction in a company whose path is unknown and which will now go to court to complete a deal with a bad faith actor.”

The precarious situation underscores why Twitter has set out to sue Mr. Musk as soon as this week to force the completion of the deal. The court battle will likely be protracted and formidable, and will involve months of costly litigation and high-stakes negotiations by elite lawyers. The decision is far from certain – perhaps Twitter wins, but if it loses, then Mr. Musk could get away with paying a breakup fee. Or the two sides can renegotiate or compromise.

On Monday, the damage caused by Mr. Musk, 51, was in the clear. Twitter’s stock is down more than 11 percent to one of its lowest points since 2020 as investors anticipate the upcoming legal battle. Since Twitter approved Mr. Musk’s takeover bid, on April 25, his stock lost more than a third of its value As investors became skeptical that the deal would go through on the agreed terms. (In contrast, the tech-heavy Nasdaq has fallen about 12.5 percent in the same period.)

Twitter declined to comment on Monday. in a letter to mr. On Sunday, Musk’s lawyers said his move to terminate the deal was “null and wrong” and that Mr. Musk had “knowingly, intentionally, intentionally and materially violated” his agreement to buy the company. Twitter will continue to provide information to Mr. The letter added Musk and worked to close the deal.

the master. Musk did not respond to requests for comment. On Sunday, the billionaire, who cited the number of fake accounts on the Twitter platform as the reason he couldn’t buy the company, tweeted a picture of himself laughing at the situation.

among all the debris mr. Musk is leaving Twitter, most notably how brutally he has been exposed to the company’s winning financial and business prospects. Twitter has operated at a loss for seven of the nine years it has been a public company. During deliberations about a. Musk’s offer, the company did not receive any serious interest from other suitors, people familiar with the situation said. Twitter’s board of directors decided that Mr. Musk’s bid of $54.20 per share was the best it could get, indicating he doesn’t see a way to get to that price on his own.

“The board’s lack of conviction in the company’s long-term future will remain with employees, partners, and shareholders regardless of the outcome with Elon,” Goldman said.

In recent months, Twitter’s business has deteriorated. Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief executive, said in a note to employees in May that the company had not adhered to its business and financial goals. To address these issues, he fired the heads of product and revenue, instituted a hiring slowdown and began an effort to attract new users and diversify into e-commerce. In April, the company stopped offering a financial outlook to investors, pending an acquisition.

This trajectory is unlikely to change as uncertainty about the deal irritates advertisers, Twitter’s main source of revenue.

“Twitter in the near future will have trouble reassuring volatile advertisers and their users that they will be stable,” said Angelo Carusone, president of monitoring group Media Matters for America.

In what was an implied research on Twitter’s top CEOs, Mr. Musk said he could have done a better job with the company. In a presentation to investors in May, he said he plans to fivefold the company’s revenue to $26.4 billion by 2028 and reach 931 million users in the same year, up from 217 million at the end of last year.

the master. Musk emphasized Twitter’s sloppy financial direction in a letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. His lawyers wrote that the “declining business prospects and financial outlook for the company” put him on pause, particularly given Twitter’s “recent financial performance and revised outlook” for the upcoming fiscal year.

the master. Musk, who has more than 100 million followers on Twitter, hit on the product, saying it’s not as attractive as other apps. He has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that Twitter has been overrun with more authentic accounts than it has disclosed; Such accounts can be automated to pump out toxic or false content. (The company said less than 5 percent of the accounts on its platform are fake.)

Disinformation experts said his retaliatory criticism over fake accounts has eroded trust in Twitter, as the company prepares to moderate heated political debates about upcoming elections in Brazil and this fall’s midterm elections in the United States.

In another criticism of Twitter and the way it moderates content, A. Musk has vowed to roll back the company’s moderation policies in the name of freedom of expression. In May, he said he would work to “unblock” former President Donald J. Trump from Twitter, allowing Mr. Trump is back on the social network. This led to the release of right-wing users, who had long accused the company of censoring them, and renewed questions about how Twitter handled discussions about the limits of free speech.

Within the company, employee morale has taken a hit, leading to infighting and attrition, according to six current and former employees.

Some of those who stayed said they were relieved that Mr. It appears that Musk has decided not to own the company. Others have shared nihilistic memes on the company’s Slack or publicly Criticize Twitter board and executives entertain Mr. Musk was offered in the first place, according to internal letters seen by The New York Times. Two people familiar with their thinking said the mood among executives was bleak.

Twitter founder Evan Williams wrote on Twitter Friday that he wishes Mr. Musk antiques.

“If I am still a member of the board, I will ask if we can let this whole ugly ring go off,” said the master. Williams posted in response to the announcement that Twitter intends to sue Mr. Hold and push the deal forward. “Hopefully that’s the plan and that’s the celebration.”

Manu Cornet, Twitter employee, clear mood Through a cartoon showing a broken company shocked by Mr. Musk’s neglected elbow. His caption: “You break it, you buy it!”

Ryan Mac And the Isabella Simonetti Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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