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Texts Posted Before Twitter Trial Show Elon Musk Putting Together the Deal: NPR


SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks during a joint T-Mobile and SpaceX event on August 25, 2022 in Boca Chica Beach, Texas.

Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images


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SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks during a joint T-Mobile and SpaceX event on August 25, 2022 in Boca Chica Beach, Texas.

Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter came about via private text messages between the Tesla CEO and a small circle of Silicon Valley’s rich and powerful, plus their minions, advisers, and a handful of journalists, politicians, and wannabes. to negotiators.

The messages were part of court documents and were unsealed Thursday as part of the pretrial discovery process in the court battle over whether Musk should abide by the merger agreement he signed to buy Twitter. Twitter and Musk are due in court on October 1. 17

The message stream includes Musk’s exchanges with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, current CEO Parag Agrawal, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, and many more.

Court documents show Musk making pitches to Twitter, discussing the importance of free speech, working on ideas for how to improve the platform, raising the funding for the deal, and then deliberating on how to make the struggling company profitable.

Ann Lipton, a business law professor at Tulane University, says that some corporate cases generate “juicy, embarrassing internal emails.” But the Twitter case is more entertaining because Musk is such a colorful figure and Twitter is a high-profile company with outsized influence.

Jack Dorsey, who founded Twitter and resigned in November 2021, discussed Twitter privacy with Musk in late March.


An excerpt from selected text messages submitted as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk.

Delaware Chancery Court Records


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Delaware Chancery Court Records

Musk quickly amassed enough shares to add up to a 9% stake in Twitter.

Congratulations came from everywhere, with many people eager to support his projects and collaborate with the richest person in the world.

He told investor Antonio Gracias: “Freedom of expression is more important when someone you hate says what you think is nonsense.”

Thank you replied: “You are absolutely right. I agree with you 100%”.


An excerpt from selected text messages submitted as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk.

Delaware Court of Chancery


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Delaware Court of Chancery


An excerpt from selected text messages submitted as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk.

Delaware Court of Chancery

Musk initially turned down a board seat, then accepted a day later, immediately proposing to Agrawal that the platform “remove permanent user bans.”

The two bonded over former engineers and current CEOs, time spent coding in the trenches, and appreciation for technical aptitude.

“Treat me like an engineer instead of a CEO,” Agrawal told Musk.

“Frankly, I hate doing management (management) stuff. I don’t think anyone should be anyone’s boss. But I love helping solve product design/technical issues,” the six-company co-founder wrote.


An excerpt from a selection of text messages provided as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk.

Delaware Court of Chancery


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Delaware Court of Chancery

Just two days later, after Musk publicly asked if Twitter was dying and a phone conversation was referenced in the messages, Agrawal scolded Musk.

“It is my responsibility to tell you that it is not helping me improve Twitter in the current context,” he wrote. Musk responded that he would not be joining the board and planned to take Twitter private.


An excerpt from a selection of text messages submitted as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk.

Delaware Court of Chancery


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Delaware Court of Chancery

Dorsey vouched for Agrawal and tried to mend the relationship with a video meeting in late April. But Musk and Agrawal couldn’t fix things.

Dorsey dryly commented to Musk: “At least it was clear they can’t work together. That was illuminating.”

The messages show Silicon Valley leaders going out of their way to participate in the Twitter deal. Investor Joe Lonsdale backed Musk’s proposal to make Twitter’s algorithm open source and promised to speak about it at a Republican political retreat.

Podcaster Joe Rogan wrote to him, “Are you going to rid Twitter of the censorship-happy crowd?”

Musk replied that he would “give advice that they may or may not choose to follow.”

Musk received praise, inquiries and proposals from journalists, politicians, investors and confidants.

With so many friends, all Musk needed was enough money to fund his takeover bid for Twitter.

He approached Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who offered him $1 billion. Musk asked for double.


An excerpt from a selection of text messages submitted as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk.

Delaware Court of Chancery


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Delaware Court of Chancery

The cache of text messages is revealing, but legal experts watching the case closely say there is more entertainment value than new legal evidence.

“I don’t see anything that we didn’t know is legally relevant. There’s some pretty damning stuff in there, but stuff that had been made public before,” said Ann Lipton, a business law expert at Tulane University, noting that the original statutory bill Twitter’s July complaint quoted Musk’s text to Twitter president Bret Taylor.

“Removing fake users will make the numbers look terrible,” Musk wrote.


An excerpt from a selection of text messages submitted as evidence in Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk.

Delaware Court of Chancery


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Delaware Court of Chancery

The text messages support the idea that his interest in the platform was based on its role in public debate and free speech issues, not because he thought it could make the company profitable, Lipton said.

Musk’s legal team had a rough week in court.

At a hearing Tuesday, lawyers for Twitter said Musk and his financial adviser, Jared Burchall, destroyed evidence (signal messages that automatically disappear) about their reasons for wanting out of the deal, and asked the judge to formally sanction Musk. .

Twitter also showed that Musk’s own data scientists mostly confirmed the company’s estimates of how many human users versus spam accounts there are on the platform, which is key to his argument.

The texts provide a rare look at how deals go down in a small circle of tech elites with unimaginable personal wealth and vast sums to invest.

Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk will go to trial in Delaware Chancery Court on October 17. If the judge rules against him, he will be forced to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

Long before the deal fell through and ended up in court, Musk foreshadowed that possibility. He texted investor Jason Calacanis that if that happens, “I will be universally loved as it’s so easy to please everyone on Twitter.”

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