Twitter Shareholders Meet Amid Elon Musk’s Takeover Drama

Twitter’s regularly scheduled shareholder meeting Wednesday didn’t include a vote on Tesla billionaire Elon Musk’s $44 billion bid for the social platform. This vote will be held at an undetermined future date.

CEO Parag Agrawal said at the outset that executives won’t be answering any questions surrounding the proposal. The CEO Parag Agrawal refused to answer any questions from stockholders about what happens to their shares if Twitter is bought and taken private. If this occurs, the stockholder will be compensated the agreed-upon price per share. The stock would then be removed from the market.

Musk did not join the meeting, although he could have, being one of Twitter’s largest shareholders.

But the drama surrounding his offer — almost all of it created by Musk himself — threatened to spill over into Wednesday’s proceedings. Musk was often invoked by shareholders who raised proposals to vote. One proposal, by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, called for a report on Twitter’s policies and procedures around political contributions using corporate funds. In a preliminary vote, it passed.

Both proposals were made by conservative-leaning organisations but failed to get enough votes. One called for an audit on the company’s “impacts on civil rights and non-discrimination” and referred to “’anti-racism’ programs that seek to establish ‘racial/social equity’” as “themselves deeply racist.” The other sought more disclosure on the company’s lobbying activities.

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Several proposals spoke to the deep existential conflict that’s been playing out among Twitter’s users, employees, shareholders and employees. One side criticized the company for its too-liberal politics, bias against conservatives and lack of transparency. Others said that the company was failing to protect the users from abuse, harassment and misinformation.

Musk’s “free speech” edict — which he has indicated would govern the company if he takes over, without offering details — has only inflamed the conflict.

Musk had promised that taking over Twitter would enable him to rid the social media platform of its annoying “spam bots.” But he’s been arguing, without presenting evidence, that there might be just too many of those automated accounts for the deal to move ahead.

The sharp turnaround by the world’s richest man makes little sense except as a tactic to scuttle or renegotiate a deal that’s becoming increasingly costly for him, experts said last week. The fact that the whole thing is playing out publicly — on Twitter, no less — only adds to the chaos that’s been a constant in Musk’s bid, even before he made it.

Earlier in May, the mercurial billionaire tweeted that the deal was “on hold” because he wanted to pinpoint the number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform after claiming that Twitter’s own estimate is too low.

Experts say Musk can’t unilaterally place the deal on hold, although that hasn’t stopped him from acting as though he can. He could face a $1 million breakup fee if he leaves. Alternatively, Twitter could sue Musk to force him to proceed with the deal, although experts think that’s highly unlikely.

Twitter shares rose $1.09 or 3% to $36.83 on Wednesday afternoon. Musk’s offer is for $54.20 per share.

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