Elon Musk Pursues Twitter — and Chaos

Thom Weidlich 04.28.22


The rollercoaster ride that is Elon Musk’s pursuit of Twitter has mostly taken place behind the scenes. But enough has been made public that we can see what it reveals about crisis response. A (formerly) hostile bid is certainly a crisis, and this one offered a lot of chaos.

It seems like ancient history now, but on April 4, Musk, CEO of both space-traveler SpaceX and electric-car maker Tesla (and, BTW, the richest person in the world), disclosed his 9 percent stake in Twitter, making him the social-media platform’s largest shareholder.

Musk said he would be a passive investor, but then he amended his regulatory filing to show an active role. On April 5, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted that Musk would join the board (that was to “muzzle” his criticisms of the company, according to The Wall Street Journal). But by April 9, Musk said he no longer wanted to be on the board. Agrawal tweeted a statement on that.

Yes, our heads were spinning.

The Offer

Then on April 14, Musk, who has more than 85 million Twitter followers, tweeted that he had made an offer for the company. This presented a new challenge. A lot of people thought it was more of Musk’s fun and games, reminiscent of the 2018 incident in which he tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla private; he ended up paying a $20 million fine for that one. It was also tough to see how he’d get the moola together to buy Twitter.

Because of this, the company’s board may have let its guard down. But then it did the expected: It adopted a “poison pill” to make it hard for Musk to corner more than 15 percent of the company. It dutifully announced the poison pill, which one would think signaled a long, drawn-out process. It was not to be.

By April 21, Musk had lined up funding from banks including Morgan Stanley and Barclays, and Twitter’s own banks were hinting that his offer was probably the best it could do. Musk wasn’t shy about using Twitter to push his case throughout, and that same day, he posted: “If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” There was a lot of stuff like that.

Board Meeting

Twitter reportedly told Musk on Saturday, April 23, it was considering his offer. The board met the next day and voted in favor.

Twitter’s press release announcing that Musk would buy the company for $54.20 a share, or $44 billion, hit PR Newswire at 2:50 p.m. ET on Monday, April 25. It’s typical to avoid making such pronouncements during the trading day, but apparently nothing about this situation is allowed to be normal.

Given Musk’s, um, erraticism, we wouldn’t be surprised if there are some more bumps along the road — even fatal ones.

Photo Credit: Twitter

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