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April 22, 2022

Elon Musk’s Excellent Week

The iconoclastic tech titan has made another move on Twitter — but this time, he’s serious.

As weeks go, Elon Musk had a pretty good one. And it’s not over yet. First came the news on Wednesday that his car company, Tesla, exceeded expectations for its first-quarter 2022 earnings — and not just by a little, but a lot. The company’s record-setting revenue and profits will afford him somewhere north of $15 billion in stock options.

Then there was the Russian hackers’ attempt to jam Musk’s SpaceX’s Starlink broadband internet service, which he’d deployed to Ukraine last month to combat Russia’s cyberwarfare efforts in the besieged country. The day after the hackers’ jamming efforts became public, the Starlink team slung a line of code and shut them down with a speed and nimbleness that one Department of Defense technologist called “eye-watering.”

And then came the news yesterday that free speech advocates had been hoping to hear: Elon Musk hasn’t given up on his effort to buy Twitter and thereby break up Big Tech’s near-monopoly on the information we see and hear. As The Wall Street Journal reports:

Elon Musk said he has lined up $46.5 billion to fund his bid for Twitter Inc., answering the biggest question that had loomed over his takeover offer for the social-media platform. In a regulatory filing, Mr. Musk also said he was considering taking his offer straight to Twitter shareholders, bypassing a board that appears dug in. Twitter said Thursday it was reviewing the newly detailed proposal.

Indeed, a Twitter spokesperson said, “As previously announced and communicated to Mr. Musk directly, the Board is committed to conducting a careful, comprehensive and deliberate review to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the Company and all Twitter stockholders.”

We’re not sure what to make of the board being “committed,” given that it responded to Musk’s initial $43 billion offer by enacting a limited-duration shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill” defense, which, in the event that Musk gained a stake in the company of 15% or more, would give all shareholders besides Musk the opportunity to buy additional Twitter stock at a deep discount, thereby greatly diluting the value of Musk’s stake.

No less a lefty than former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who led the company when it helped rig the 2020 election by suppressing the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop bombshell, said of Twitter’s board, “It’s consistently been the dysfunction of the company.” He also endorsed an old Silicon Valley adage: “Good boards don’t create good companies, but a bad board will kill a company every time.”

Speaking of bad boards, “Let’s hope Elon Musk doesn’t win his bid for Twitter,” blares the headline from the Washington Post editorial board. “Certainly, moderators sometimes make mistakes, and more transparency surrounding enforcement decisions is in order. But a broader backtracking would be an error. To protect speech at all costs and keep Twitter free of bots and spam, as Mr. Musk has said he would like to do, is almost impossible.”

“Moderators sometimes make mistakes?” Hmm … like suppressing deeply damaging news about one presidential candidate just before an election, while banning the other candidate from their platform — a sitting president — for life?

This is some weak sauce. But it’s all they’ve got. These board members from this hard-left news organization can’t come out and admit that they’re afraid of Musk’s desire to make Twitter truly free, even to those dreaded Deplorables. Beyond that, they seem perfectly happy to have been scooped up by their own tech billionaire. Why not wish the same for Twitter?

We know the answer. And we know what they’re afraid of. Musk is serious, though. And the week’s not over yet.

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