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‘Distractions ahead’ for Twitter as Musk refuses to join board

Image credit: reuters

Twitter said that Elon Musk rejected its offer to join the social media firm's board, a dramatic turn in a week when the billionaire became its biggest shareholder.

In a note posted to Twitter on Sunday, chief executive Parag Agrawal shared Musk's decision and warned of more drama with “distractions ahead”.

Agrawal wrote that the company’s board held many discussions with Musk, but did not elaborate further on the reason for the Tesla CEO’s decision.

Agrawal said the planned appointment was due to become effective on Saturday, in a move which would have then prevented the world’s wealthiest person from becoming a beneficial owner of more than 14.9 per cent of Twitter’s common stock.

The conclusion that many observers are drawing from these developments is that Musk's future intention may be to acquire more Twitter stock.

In his Twitter note reflecting on Musk’s decision, Agrawal said: “I believe this is for the best. There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged.”

The announcement was so abrupt that Musk was still listed on Twitter’s board of directors on its website as of early Monday.

Twitter shares were down around 4 per cent in premarket trading on Monday, having soared by 27 per cent on April 4 after Musk disclosed his stake. The share price has since fallen by 7.5 per cent.

Musk, whose net worth is pegged at $274bn by Forbes, responded to the latest developments only with a ‘face-with-hand-over-mouth’ emoticon on Twitter. Tesla did not immediately respond to an email sent to the company by Reuters, seeking a comment from the CEO.

Musk, who calls himself a free-speech absolutist and has been critical of Twitter, disclosed a 9.1 per cent stake on April 4 and said he planned to bring about what he deems to be significant improvements at the social media platform.

The disclosure of Musk’s newly purchased stake in the social media company stoked widespread speculation about his intentions, ranging from a full takeover of the platform to taking an active role in corporate decisions.

News of Musk taking a board seat had some Twitter employees panicking over the future of the social media firm’s ability to moderate content, company sources told Reuters.

Musk, a prolific user of Twitter, regularly makes announcements about his companies and a variety of other hot-button issues to his more than 80 million followers on the platform.

Before taking a stake, Musk ran a Twitter poll asking users if they believed Twitter adheres to the principle of free speech. A day after becoming the largest shareholder, he launched another poll asking users if they wanted an edit button, a long-awaited feature on which Twitter has been working.

Twitter has confirmed that it is working on introducing an ‘Edit’ button, which will enable users to edit tweets already published. While some users welcome the ability to fix typos and other grammatical slips, others have cautioned that being able to edit tweets introduces the possibiilty of users ‘rewriting’ historical posts.

In another of his seemingly endless barrage of polls, Musk asked users if Twitter’s headquarters should be converted into a homeless shelter, a plan also backed by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos. To date, there has been no comparable poll suggesting either Tesla or Amazon headquarters should be used for a similar homeless scheme.

Doubling down on his Twitter game, on Saturday Musk suggested changes to the Twitter Blue premium subscription service, including slashing its price, banning advertising, and giving an option to pay in the cryptocurrency dogecoin.

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