A collection of messages released in the legal dispute between Twitter and Elon Musk, who is trying to abandon his offer to acquire the platform for $ 44 billion, revealed the billionaire’s effort to mount the transaction with the help of great allies in Silicon Valley.
Hundreds of messages exchanged between Musk and his associates starting in early 2022 show the billionaire’s contacts with Twitter’s managers and board, his advisers at Morgan Stanley, potential investors such as Sam Bankman-Fried, chief executive of FTX, and other random supporters of his proposal, like podcast host Joe Rogan.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s former chief executive, told Musk that he had tried to put the entrepreneur on the company’s board in 2020, to no avail, messages show.
The files reveal that when Musk announced plans to acquire the company and go private, several well-known names backed the offer.
In an exchange of messages, Michael Grimes, a top executive at Morgan Stanley, told Musk that Sam Bankman-Fried was willing to invest up to $5 billion in the business.
Grimes said Bankman-Fried would work to integrate blockchain technology into Twitter. “He would close the deal in five if you liked him, and I think you will,” Grimes said in one of several text messages he sent Musk.
The billionaire dismissed the idea and questioned Bankman-Fried’s finances, asking, “Does Sam really have $3 billion net worth?”
Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of German media group Axel Springer, also offered to run Twitter on behalf of Musk, if he acquired it, to “establish a true platform for free speech”, and wrote a detailed proposal on how this could work.
Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, said he “would go into the business with $2 billion,” and Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at Greylock, said he could put up the same amount. Ellison ultimately contributed $1 billion to the operation.
Musk and Grimes also regretted that Orlando Bravo, a software and private equity mogul, had declined the invitation to participate in the acquisition.
The documents have become public as Musk and Twitter prepare to go to court next month. The Tesla owner announced in July that he planned to back out of the transaction, arguing that Twitter had violated the merger agreement by providing him and regulatory authorities with false information about the number of spam accounts on the platform.
Twitter denied these claims and announced a lawsuit, in an attempt to force Musk to close the deal.
Files revealed on Thursday show Musk first communicating with Twitter’s leadership about his inclusion on the company’s board in early April, after a conversation with Dorsey in which the former Twitter leader complained that the platform “doesn’t can function as a company”, and should instead be “owned by a foundation”.
Dorsey said he had previously tried to include Musk on the board, but board members turned him down because they were “risk averse.” Musk, who has been a friend of Dorsey’s for a long time, responded that he “would like to help if I can.”
Dorsey later wrote to Musk describing Twitter’s advice as “awful”.
The messages also reveal a breakdown in relations between Musk and Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal, shortly after the Tesla boss agreed to join the social network’s board. In a message, Agrawal berated the billionaire for writing “Is Twitter dying?” in a message on the platform, arguing that it distracted the company’s personnel.
“What did you manage to do this week?” Musk wrote, in the tense exchange of messages. “I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of time. I’m going to make an offer to take Twitter private.”
The messages also contained speeches by podcaster Rogan, who asked Musk if he would “free Twitter from the mafia of censorship buddies?” and Jason Calacanis, an investor in tech start-ups who sought funding for the Twitter offering. Musk and came forward to help run the company if it went private, saying “being CEO of Twitter is my dream job.”
The revelation of the messages comes at a time when Twitter accuses Musk of not cooperating in providing his communications, including messages on the Signal platform.
Twitter’s lawyers used messages received from third parties to infer that Musk is not complying with court orders, and asked a Delaware judge to impose sanctions on the billionaire for what they describe as misconduct in providing documentation regarding the lawsuit.
Translation by Paulo Migliacci