Tesla billionaire Elon Musk is due to meet with Twitter employees Thursday in an apparent effort to assuage concerns about his $44 billion deal to acquire the social platform.
Musk reached a deal to acquire Twitter in April, but he has clashed with the company repeatedly since then. Musk said he was putting the deal on hold on May 13, something he may not have the legal authority to do unilaterally. Musk said he needed more data from the company about automated “spam bot” accounts on the service. Twitter has reported its bot estimates — accompanied with an admission that they may be too low — to securities regulators for years.
The billionaire has also implicitly criticized the Twitter workforce, as when he mocked the company’s generous work-from-home policy by suggesting that its headquarters could be turned into a homeless shelter because, he said, so few employees actually work there.
Twitter employees could have other reasons to be nervous about Musk’s impending takeover. The irascible billionaire has levied a barrage of criticism at the company’s moderation and safety policies, which he terms a threat to “free speech” and its ban of former President Donald Trump following the January 6, 2020 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which he has pledged to reverse.
If history is any guide, Musk might also consider moving the company to Texas, as he did with Tesla’s headquarters in December 2021. An unabashed crypto devotee, he has floated ideas about accepting the cryptocurrency dogecoin as payment for premium Twitter accounts. Musk also once had Tesla purchase $1.5 billion in bitcoin and for a brief period allowed buyers to pay for their cars using cryptocurrency.
Musk undoubtedly also has plenty of fans in the Twitter workforce, as he does throughout the tech industry.
It’s not clear if this week’s meeting means that the two sides have come closer together on resolving their issues. Shares of Twitter have been trading well below the $54.20 per share that Musk has agreed to pay amid Wall Street doubts that the deal will be consummated.