Elon Musk wants to take Twitter public again 'within 3 years'
Tesla chief courts private equity with promises of future IPO, says report
In another twist to the Twitter saga, Elon Musk could be returning the microblogging mainstay to public ownership in the not-too-distant future after agreeing to take it private as part of his $44 billion takeover.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Musk has told potential investors that he's planning to refloat Twitter in as little as three years after the deal goes through.
The acquisition is still subject to regulatory hurdles and the approval of shareholders, Twitter said.
The Tesla and SpaceX kingpin has been courting private equity in a bid to lower the $21 billion of his own cash he plans to use to finance the deal. The rest of the funds are being fronted by Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays.
This follows a "poison pill" Twitter prepared to prevent Musk seizing control in a hostile takeover.
The WSJ reports that Apollo Global Management is now sniffing around the transaction with a view to participate.
Comparisons are being drawn between Musk's plan and how investment firms take companies private to reorganize them out of sight, then make them public again once improvements have been made.
The move "could help assure potential investors that he would work quickly to improve Twitter's business operations and profitability," the WSJ suggests.
In the social media sphere, Facebook had 2.912 billion monthly active users in January 2022, Instagram 1 billion, Sina Weibo 573 million, and Twitter a comparatively paltry 330 million.
According to a 2018 SEC filing from the firm, "in general, a higher proportion of internet users in the United States and Japan use Twitter than internet users in other countries."
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Ruminating on "profitability," Musk assured Twitter loyalists:
will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 3, 2022
The vagueness struck some early alarm. When so many people, Musk himself included, use Twitter to signal-boost business interests, where is the line drawn between "commercial" and "casual" users? And where do, for instance, journalists fit?
And even more pressing, will Barb from Kentucky, who is actually Vlad from Smolensk, also have to pay?
Twitter would not be drawn in at this stage, as was clear when asked by Reuters.
In any case, Twitter's "niche" audience appears to bother Musk, who told the annual Met Gala in New York on Monday: "I want a much bigger percentage of the [United States] to be on it, engaging in dialogue."
Musk, who paints himself as a "free speech absolutist" (when it suits him), has said he wants Twitter to be less censorious in content moderation and suggested changing the platform's subscription service, banning advertising, and giving an option to pay in the cryptocurrency dogecoin.
Whether any of these were serious directions remains to be seen, but the world's richest man is known to change outlooks quickly.
Meanwhile, a Twitter user said they regretted giving him the idea in the first place. ®
This exchange continues to haunt me pic.twitter.com/W06oSqx0MR— Dave Smith (@redletterdave) April 25, 2022