Remember when Elon Musk was going to buy Twitter?
Earlier this year, Musk seemed intent on taking over the social media platform. He signed a legal agreement to acquire the company and everything! Some were skeptical that the billionaire was actually serious about taking over Twitter because he has a long history of talking a big game and then not actually following through with the delivery.
And, yes, those skeptics were correct as Elon Musk eventually pulled out of the deal and is now being sued by Twitter, which is looking to force Musk to honor his agreement and pay up.
But due to that very lawsuit, we now know that, at one point, Musk seemed pretty serious about actually buying Twitter. As part of the legal discovery process prior to the two parties meeting in court, the Tesla CEO’s texts about Twitter have been made public.
Among the fundraising texts from big tech founders trying to get in on the financials of the deal, like Oracle’s Larry Ellison and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, there are some really interesting messages. Let’s take a look at the “highlights.”
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Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey wanted Musk to take over the company
Jack Dorsey has long been the face of Twitter, so it was a bit of a surprise when he announced he was stepping down as CEO in November 2021 and leaving the board of directors in May 2022.
But while he was still on Twitter’s board, Dorsey was messaging with Musk about acquiring Twitter and taking the company private. In response to a Musk tweet asking if a new platform was needed, Dorsey (or “jack jack,” which is how Musk saved his contact info) texted in March: “Yes, a new platform is needed. It can’t be a company. This is why I left.”
“I believe it must be an open source protocol, funded by a foundation of sorts that doesn’t own the protocol, only advances it. A bit like what Signal has done. It can’t have an advertising model,” Dorsey continued. “This isn’t complicated work, it just has to be done right so it’s resilient to what has happened to twitter.”
Dorsey explained that he’d be completely gone from the company in May when he stepped down from the board. After that, he intended to “do this work.”
Musk responded that he wanted to help, which is when Dorsey offered up this interesting nugget of information: Dorsey previously tried to get Musk on the board and when that failed, Dorsey wanted out of Twitter.
“I wanted to talk with you about it after I was all clear, because you care so much, get it’s (sic) importance, and could def help in immeasurable ways. Back when we had the activist come in, I tried my hardest to get you on our board, and our board said no. That’s about the time I decided I needed to work to leave, as hard as it was for me,” Dorsey texted.
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Musk wanted users to make crypto payments to prove they weren’t bots
Elon Musk claims that his main reason for backing out of the Twitter deal was due to all the bots and fake accounts on Twitter. While his public comments make it clear that he knew that was an issue to be dealt with, his private texts go deeper into what Musk was planning to do about it.
And what else would a rich tech mogul living in 2022 suggest to solve a problem? Blockchain, of course!
“I have an idea for a blockchain social media system that does both payments and short text messages/links like twitter,” Musk texted his brother Kimbal. “You have to pay a tiny amount to register your message on the chain, which will cut out the vast majority of spam and bots.”
That’s right, Elon wanted users to pay to verify their messages on the blockchain. Of course, many users would not have done that and then what? Is the suggestion that if they didn’t pay, they’d likely be fake? The idea doesn’t make any sense.
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Right-wingers saw an opportunity in Musk
One of Elon Musk’s major plays when he was interested in acquiring Twitter was turning it into a “free speech” platform. Basically, he didn’t like the company’s policies regarding content moderation. One example of that is Twitter’s decision to ban former president Donald Trump following the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021. Musk has said he would reinstate Trump’s account if he ran Twitter.
And one of Musk’s phone contacts appears to bring Trump up. However, unlike others in the filings, this individual’s information is redacted.
“It will be a delicate game of letting right wingers back on Twitter and how to navigate that (especially the boss himself, if you’re up for that),” the sender texted to Musk, referencing conservative personalities who have been banned for violating Twitter’s rules.
The anonymous texter then offers up a suggestion for “someone who has a savvy cultural/political view to be the VP of actual enforcement.” That suggestion: “A Blake Masters type.”
Blake Masters, the former COO of right-wing tech VC Peter Thiel’s investment firm, is currently the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona who has blamed gun violence on “Black people” and has floated beliefs that sound a lot like the far-right white supremacist conspiracy known as “The Great Replacement Theory.”
In other texts to Musk, some right-wing politicians and conservative figures explicitly wanted to get involved with Twitter under the Tesla CEO’s potential ownership.
“Haha even Governor DeSantis just called me just now with ideas how to help you and outraged at that board and saying the public is rooting for you,” texted Joe Lonsdale, another tech VC and Thiel associate. “Let me know if you or somebody on your side wants to chat with him.
Former congressman Justin Amash, a libertarian, asked to be introduced to Musk regarding the potential Twitter acquisition, according to a text from tech investor David Sacks.
“Why don’t you buy Twitter? We run it for you,” texted Mathias Dopfner, the CEO of the media conglomerate Axel Springer, who once emailed executives at his company asking they get together and pray for Trump’s re-election.
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Celebs, tech execs embarrass themselves with over-the-top praise of Musk
Elon Musk is currently the richest person in the world, according to Forbes. So, naturally, some people feel the need to grovel a bit when interacting with him. But, some of the folks messaging with Musk clearly thought their texts would never see the light of day.
Angel investor Jason Calacanis reached out to Musk in hopes of apparently living out his dream of being Twitter CEO.
“Put me in the game coach!” texted Calacanis with a smiley face emoji. “Twitter CEO is my dream job. We should get Mr. Beast to create for Twitter…we need to win the next two generations.”
And that’s not the only unsolicited advice Calcanis offered. Earlier in the conversation, the angel investor suggested getting rid of a substantial number of Twitter employees.
“Day zero. Sharpen your blades boys,” Calacanis texted Musk. “2 day a week Office requirement = 20% voluntary departures.”
When Musk offered Calacanis a position as “strategic advisor if this works out,” Calacanis replied: “100%. Board member, advisor, whatever…you have my sword.”
Somehow, that wasn’t the most cringeworthy message.
“You are the hero Gotham needs – hell F’ing yes!” Riot Games founder Marc Merrill texted to Musk.
CBS host and Oprah BFF Gayle King texted Musk in early April asking for a sitdown interview.
“What do I need to do????” King asked. When news publicly broke about Musk’s offer to buy Twitter, King reached out via text message again to shoot her shot for an interview.
“This is as the kids of today say a ‘gangsta move,'” King said. “I don’t know how shareholders turn this down…like i said you are not like other kids in the class…”
And in what may be the least surprising texts out of all of them, podcaster Joe Rogan reached out to ask Musk, “Are you going to liberate Twitter from the censorship happy mob?”
Rogan proposed throwing Musk a big party if he did.