SAN FRANCISCO — For weeks, Elon Musk has publicly trashed Twitter, although he’s shopping for the corporate in a $44 billion deal. On Thursday, he lastly acted like an proprietor.
In an hourlong question-and-answer session within the morning with Twitter’s 8,000 or so workers — the primary time Mr. Musk has spoken with them since he agreed to purchase the social media firm in April — the world’s richest man opened up about his plans for the service. In an effusive and at instances rambling handle, he touched on subjects as various as development, potential layoffs, anonymity, Chinese apps, the existence of alien life-forms and even the cosmic nature of Twitter.
“I want Twitter to contribute to a better, long-lasting civilization where we better understand the nature of reality,” Mr. Musk mentioned within the assembly, which was livestreamed to Twitter workers and which The New York Times listened to.
The 50-year-old added that he hoped the service might assist humankind “better understand the nature of the universe, as much as it is possible to understand.”
The assembly, which Mr. Musk participated in from his cellphone in what gave the impression to be a lodge room, advised that he was set on closing the blockbuster acquisition. His intentions had been doubtful in latest weeks when the billionaire, who additionally runs the electrical carmaker Tesla and the rocket firm SpaceX, repeatedly raised questions on Twitter’s faux accounts in an obvious pretext for doubtlessly ending or renegotiating the deal.
Since April, the famously mercurial Mr. Musk has tweeted that the acquisition was “on hold” and accused Twitter of “actively resisting and thwarting” his rights. At one other level, he had criticized a few of the firm’s executives. He made his inflammatory feedback as world markets tumbled and shares of Tesla, that are his fundamental supply of wealth, plummeted.
The antics from Mr. Musk, who’s paying $54.20 a share to purchase Twitter, had left buyers, the corporate’s workers and others guessing as to what he may do. Twitter’s inventory is now buying and selling round $37. Yet the corporate has insisted that the deal stays on observe and that it has been sharing data with Mr. Musk, who’s on the hook for a breakup payment of $1 billion if he walks away.
Mr. Musk didn’t immediately handle on Thursday whether or not he would shut the cope with Twitter, however he made it clear to workers that he had grand ambitions.
During the dialog, which was moderated by Twitter’s chief advertising officer, Leslie Berland, Mr. Musk mentioned he hoped to broaden the service to a couple of billion customers the world over. That can be practically 4 instances the variety of present customers. He added that he was hands-on at Tesla and anticipated to be so at Twitter.
Even with such a efficiency, some cautioned that Mr. Musk may nonetheless change his thoughts about finishing the deal for Twitter.
“I assume he’s operating on two tracks,” mentioned Ann Lipton, a professor of company governance at Tulane Law School. “Maybe he wants to lower the price or even cancel the deal. If the deal goes through, he wants additional investors.”
She added: “Publicly talking to Twitter employees, trying to assuage their concerns, maybe gives reassurances to potential investors. But I’m not clear whether that’s his Plan B or his Plan A.”
Twitter declined to touch upon the assembly, and Mr. Musk didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Mr. Musk had been scheduled to talk to Twitter’s workers weeks in the past, however the session didn’t happen. Then over the previous week, the San Francisco-based firm started accumulating questions for him from workers on its inner Slack messaging system. The assembly, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. San Francisco time, started a couple of minutes late, with Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief govt, thanking Mr. Musk.
Then Mr. Musk began answering questions, together with about distant work. This month, he despatched memos to employees at Tesla and SpaceX saying he anticipated them to be within the workplace for 40 hours per week. Twitter’s workers have largely labored remotely within the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Musk instructed Twitter workers that he was open to their working remotely, provided that growing software program is completely different from displaying up every day to construct vehicles. But he mentioned a broad lack of in-office participation might contribute to a dwindling “esprit de corps” and hoped that folks can be keen to enter the workplace extra sooner or later.
Mr. Musk dodged immediately answering whether or not there can be layoffs at Twitter, although his reply was considerably ominous.
“Right now, costs exceed revenue,” he mentioned. “That’s not a great situation.”
At one other level, he digressed right into a dialogue about whether or not extraterrestrial life was potential, although it was unclear the place he netted out. He additionally introduced up the Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok as aspirational, provided that WeChat is so embedded in individuals’s every day lives in China and TikTok is “not boring.”
One enchancment that Mr. Musk mentioned he wished to make was including funds know-how to Twitter. Ideally, customers would be capable to ship cash forwards and backwards by way of the service, just like how merchandise like Venmo or Square Cash function.
How Elon Musk’s Twitter Deal Unfolded
A blockbuster deal. Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man, capped what appeared an inconceivable try by the famously mercurial billionaire to purchase Twitter for roughly $44 billion. Here’s how the deal unfolded:
Mr. Musk, a longtime energy person of Twitter with greater than 98 million followers, has lengthy mentioned he believes the corporate’s potential is underutilized. He has added that he hopes to rejuvenate the service exterior the attention of the general public markets by taking the corporate personal and making important modifications to how Twitter operates.
Inside Twitter, some workers have had combined emotions about Mr. Musk. Some have mentioned they’re involved by his Twitter habits and murky politics.
On Thursday, workers at SpaceX circulated a memo saying that they have been additionally involved about their chief govt’s public conduct — notably how he acted on Twitter — and that it mirrored poorly on workers.
“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us,” learn the letter, which was obtained by The Times and reported earlier by The Verge. “As our C.E.O. and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company.”
Others at Twitter have mentioned they have been apprehensive by how Mr. Musk desires to take a laissez-faire method to policing the platform.
On Thursday, he emphasised that he wished to make Twitter as inclusive a platform as potential, principally by gaining extra customers, including that he wouldn’t permit legal acts to be carried out on the community. He mentioned that he additionally didn’t need to make individuals use their actual names on Twitter and that there was utility in utilizing pseudonyms to precise political opinions on the service.
Some Twitter workers, who’ve pointed to Mr. Musk’s fame as an innovator, mentioned they felt heartened after Thursday’s assembly. Mr. Musk was not hostile and appeared to have a imaginative and prescient for the product, regardless of not having the ability to enunciate it clearly at instances, they mentioned. Others mentioned he had not addressed their questions, with one worker writing in an inner Slack message, which was seen by The Times, that “if you took a drink each time he answered a question, you’d be painfully sober at the end of this.”
Mr. Musk was noncommittal when requested if he deliberate to imagine the chief govt function at Twitter when he took over the corporate. He mentioned he wasn’t a standard C.E.O. and pointed to his title at Tesla, which is Technoking. But he additionally famous that he had many concepts for product updates and the way the service ought to evolve, and that he would make these identified to others throughout the firm.
“I do expect that they will listen to me in this regard,” Mr. Musk mentioned.
Ryan Mac and Lauren Hirsch contributed reporting.