Tesla CEO Elon Musk acquired a 9% stake in Twitter to become its largest shareholder, just before raising questions about the social media platform’s dedication to free speech and the First Amendment.
The ultimate aim of Musk’s 73.5 million share purchase worth $3 billion based on the closing price Friday, is not clear. Yet in late March Musk, who has 80 million Twitter followers and is very active on the site, questioned free speech on Twitter and whether the platform is undermining democracy.
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According to Securities and Exchange filing Monday, Musk bought the shares on March 14, describing him as a long-term investor looking to minimize his buying and selling of the shares. That means that Musk acquired the shares before beginning his public discourse on the First Amendment and Twitter.
Yet Musk has also raised the possibility, publicly before his massive and loyal Twitter following, that he could create a rival social media network.
Industry analysts are skeptical about whether the mercurial CEO will remain on the sidelines for long.
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 its shares have been falling since early last year. The company, according to Zino, has failed to adequately monetize the platform during the past several years. Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO in November.
“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’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.
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Twitter’s stock surged more than 25% Monday. Since Musk bought his stake on March 14, shares of Twitter are up nearly 50%.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk told his millions of followers on Twitter that he was “ giving serious thought ” to creating his own social media platform and has clashed repeatedly with financial regulators about his use of Twitter.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.