Elon Musk’s Twitter Deal On Hold: Another Broken Promise?

Elon Musk may not be delivered he finally promised about the Twitter acquisition.

It’s not the first time he’s fallen short, backed down, or abruptly changed course after making a big, flashy promise of innovation. In fact, it’s not even the first time he’s done so in the past six weeks during these particular negotiations with Twitter.

For Musk—a serial entrepreneur, controversial celebrity, incurable online brake, and in some ways the richest man alive—he abruptly hit the brakes $44 billion tech acquisition with a vague tweet is, well, just another Friday.

“The Twitter deal is temporarily on hold pending details supporting the calculation that spam/fake accounts actually represent less than 5% of users,” said the Tesla and SpaceX CEO wrote early Friday morning in a post on the social network it was otherwise intended for purchase. Attached was a link to an 11-day-old Reuters article detailing how the platform’s current management recently noticed the proliferation of spam accounts — a pet problem for Musk and one indicated that he will tackle if he takes the app privately – less than 5% of the monetizable daily active users.

More than two hours later he answered himself: “Still committed to acquisition.”

Shares of Twitter fell in response, falling to nearly $40, indicating strong doubts on Wall Street that the deal would ever go through. Meanwhile, shares of Tesla are up 7% to as high as $786.50 after falling more than 25% since Musk began selling $8 billion in the company to hype the Twitter fund deal.

Musk’s tangle with Twitter was one of setbacks and false starts from the start. When he revealed that on April 4th he had acquired a 9% stake on social media, this seemed to be the extent of his involvement; After all, he had signed up as a passive investor, meaning he was barred from exercising control of the company under US securities laws.

But two days later, hey submitted an update: Actually, he would be an active investor.

To complicate things further, Musk’s initial acquisition was quickly followed by gossip from him and Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal that Musk would be Joined the company’s board of directors (while capping his stake at 14.9%).

“I am pleased to announce that we are appointing [Musk] to our board of directors!” Agrawal tweeted, to which Musk replied, “I look forward to working with [Agrawal and the] Twitter board!”

Or not. Until April 11th Musk was outside.

Until Musk finally took his big step — an offer to take Twitter private for $54.20 a share — it wasn’t clear what his plan was, or if he even had one. Analysts were skeptical that the offering would go anywhere, as were traders as shares lingered well below the asking price. Maybe Musk was too. “I’m not sure I can actually purchase it,” he said during an interview at a TED conference.

But by April 25 — still the same month it first announced its 9% stake — Twitter’s board of directors had accepted the offer. Agrawal assured employees that no layoffs were planned; analyst started thinking about what this meant for the digital language; Musk said he would allow currently banned former President Trump to do so come back on the app.

Now it’s all on hold. Again. (Twitter declined comment. Musk does not maintain a press office.)

Unless Musk’s tweet was another feint. “‘Temporarily on hold’ is not a thing,” Bloomberg finance columnist Matt Levine wrote on Friday, suggesting that forcing Twitter to renegotiate to a lower price, or agree to it, may have been a move risk an ugly lawsuit.

For Musk and Musk watchers, these are familiar cycles.

The following is a partial list of promises and predictions Musk has not kept:

A trailer truck from Tesla

Wed Nov. On Nov. 11, 2017, Musk announced that Tesla would build an electric semitrailer truck, trumpeting aggressive specs on efficiency and range. The company began accepting deposits from potential customers. Five years later, Tesla hasn’t announced a firm plan to build and deliver tractor-trailers.

A Tesla pickup

That same day, Musk announced that Tesla would be selling a pickup truck that he later claimed would be “a better truck than an equivalent F-150 and a better sports car than a standard.” [Porsche] 911.” The company has been accepting deposits on its so-called Cybertruck since 2019. So far, the odd-edged vehicle only exists as a prototype, although Musk recently said the company plans to start production in Austin, Texas next year.

A new roadster

As an added surprise at the semi-truck event, held at SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters, a hot-looking sports car called the Roadster was driven in front of a crowd that included Amber Heard, Musk’s then-girlfriend. Musk later said the car — a radical update of the first model Tesla offered in 2008 — could be powered by jet engines that would allow it to fly. The company started accepting $250,000 in deposits. Though Musk would later send a Roadster into space, no plans have been announced to actually build and sell the car.

A network of autonomous taxis

In April 2019, Musk told a Wall Street audience that 1 million fully autonomous Tesla robotic taxis would be in service by 2020. Although competitors like Waymo and Cruise have introduced robotaxis networks on a limited scale, Tesla has done nothing of the sort.

Completely self-propelled

In 2016, Tesla began selling a feature called Full Self-Driving, which six years later still lacks the ability to fully self-drive. It costs $12,000 a year.

brain chips

Musk has said in various places that his brain chip company Neuralink could one day stop epilepsy attacks, restore limb function, fix speech disorders, cure Alzheimer’s and bring sight to the blind. The company hasn’t announced any serious advances on any of these claims, and neuroscientific experts have cast doubt on how realistic they are. However, earlier this year the company admitted that eight monkeys had been killed in brain chip experiments.

And other

A longer list of Musk’s broken promises and incomprehensible predictions would include: A full network of solar-powered Supercharger stations; Backup battery storage at Supercharger locations affected by California wildfire-induced power outages; Production of 1,000 solar roofs per week; one hour turnaround time for body work at Tesla Service Centers; a solar-powered battery factory in Nevada; tunnels with vehicles on electric skates that could take fans to Dodger games at 150 miles per hour; and more recently, a humanoid robot to be unveiled “hopefully next year.”

Then, of course, there was Musk’s infamous and legally consequential claim that he “secured the financing” to take Tesla private in 2018 for $420 a share. Should the Twitter deal turn out to be vaporware, this episode will resemble some sort of unintended prophecy.

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