Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has become the largest shareholder of Twitter by a large margin, purchasing a 9.2% stake in the company.
That gives him more than four times as many shares as its former founder Jack Dorsey, who now owns 2.25%.
“Twitter shares surged about 26% in premarket trading after the regulator filing released Monday detailing Musk buying the holding,” Bloomberg reported. “The stake is worth about $2.89 billion, based on Friday’s market close.”
Will Musk Make Twitter More of a Free Speech Platform?
Twitter has been accused of stifling free speech in the past due to high profile bans and censorship.
Musk tweeted a poll to his followers about free speech and Twitter’s adherence to it last month, stating that the “consequences of this poll will be important.”
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk, 50, asked his audience, which includes 80.2 million followers.
“The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
When the dust settled, more than 80% of the 2,000,000-plus followers on Musk’s account voted “no.”
“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.
What should be done?” he asked, following up, “Is a new platform needed?”
Musk Hints at Possible Future Plans for the Social Media Giant
Musk later said that he was giving serious thought to building a new “open source” platform, while musing whether or not Twitter should be open source.
Twitter has previously failed to make its software open source (meaning its algorithms and other principal elements can be copied) due to security concerns, but Musk seems to believe that social media should be as transparent and free as possible.
“I think he intends to go active and force change at Twitter,” said Dan Ives, tech analyst as Wedbush Securities. “This is a shot across the bow at Twitter’s board and management team to start discussions.”
“One way or another, he’s going to change the course of Twitter,” Ives added according to a report.
Dorsey stepped down as CEO last November in a sudden move that shocked many onlookers.
He was replaced by Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal.