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Musk sells $3.95 billion in Tesla shares, paid eleven times more for Twitter

Meanwhile, more advertisers pause spending on loss-making social media platform and user base said to be declining

What's the latest in the life of the world’s richest man? Elon Musk has offloaded almost $4 billion in Tesla stock after buying Twitter, the social media platform that is losing advertisers, money and maybe users.

Musk cashed in 19.5 million shares in the electric carmaker between the 4 to 8 November, according to the latest regulatory filings by the company with the SEC.

The billionaire's plans for the $3.95 billion were not specified, but onlookers believe Musk would need to sell Tesla shares to help fund the $44 billion he paid for Twitter. Along with investors, Musk provided $33.5 billion in equity financing and Twitter took on $13 billion in debt to go private.

Let's hope – for Musk’s sake – it was all worth it.

It has been a period of tumult for Twitter, what with Musk chopping the leadership team including chief executive Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal, and head of legal policy Vijaya Gadde, then making circa half of the 7,500 workforce redundant.

Musk previously said he simply wants to use the takeover of Twitter to "help humanity" by making it a bastion of free speech and the center of users' lives. The first weekend under Musk's ownership saw Twitter's head of safety feel the need to remind users of rules that prohibit hateful speech.

"Over the last 48 hours, we've seen a small number of account post a ton of tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms. To giver you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts," said Yoel Roth.

Twitter previously banned free-wheeling celebrities that liked to shoot from the hip and sometimes sowed seeds of hate and division. Among them was a certain teak-colored former President of the US.

Advertisers want to see how Musk balances things, and a bunch of large corporates including Adidas, Puma, Hugo Boss, Audi of America, Volkswagen, German insurer and asset manager Allianz, automaker Stellantis and Oreo maker Mondelez have pulled ads off Twitter.

"What we've seen recently since the change on Twitter has been announced, is the amount of hate speech increase significantly," Mondelez International boss Dirk van de Put told Reuters.

"We felt there is a risk our advertising would appear next to the wrong messages," he added.

Musk said at the end of last week that Twitter was losing $4 million a day, which is apparently what forced him to lay off around 3,750 employees at Twitter, although the company reportedly rowed back and asked "dozens" to return as they were laid off by mistake.

According to Bot Sentinel, a business that analyzes more than 3.1 million Twitter accounts and their daily activity, some 877,000 accounts were deactivated and 497,000 suspended between October 27 and November 1, according to MIT Tech Review. This was more than double the typical number.

This is contrast to Musk's public claims that, since he took over, Twitter has never been so big. Twitter previously reached an all time high of 336 million in calendar Q1 of 2018. It no longer publishes monthly data on the number of active users it has. ®

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