Elon Musk Walks Back Plans to Join Twitter Board — Why He Bailed

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Apr. 11 2022, Updated 10:34 a.m. ET

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is a major driver of cultural sentiment, and one of his key avenues to reach the public is his Twitter account. Recently, Musk announced he would join the board of directors for Twitter Inc. (TWTR), but he backtracked on April 9 at the last minute before signing on to the board.

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Why did Musk change his mind about joining Twitter’s board — and what does this mean for TWTR stock and Musk’s next move?

The backstory: Musk questioned Twitter and then decided to join forces.

On March 25–26, Musk posted polls about social media on his Twitter account. The questions read:

  • “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?”

  • “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?”

  • “Is a new platform needed?”

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Days later, Musk announced he would be joining Twitter’s board of directors. Members of the Twitter board said they came to an agreement, including placing a limit on Musk’s maximum share of TWTR stock at 14.9 percent.

Elon Musk decided not to join Twitter board after all.

The final agreement between Musk and the Twitter board was set to be finalized on April 9. Musk backtracked at the last minute and ultimately shut down the deal in the process.

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Prior to Musk’s cancellation, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal posted a screenshot of a letter he wrote and shared it with his followers. The note read, “We were excited to collaborate and clear about the risks. We also believed that having Elon as a fiduciary of the company where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders, was the best path forward.”

Agrawal added that he believes Musk’s decision to cancel was for the best and that “Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.”

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Why did Musk change his mind about joining the Twitter board?

There are a few possible reasons why Musk backtracked on the deal to join Twitter’s board of directors. First, joining the board would limit the percentage of TWTR stock that Musk could hold and place a hard cap at 14.9 percent. Musk currently owns 9.2 percent of TWTR shares and may want to increase that position moving forward.

Alternatively, Musk may want to embark on a more powerful role at Twitter in the executive branch. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey left his role as CEO of the company in late 2021 to focus on his company Block (formerly Square). While people like Agrawal’s engineering background, it’s possible Musk may want to step into that or a similar role. This would allow Musk to make substantial changes to how Twitter operates.

The day Musk backtracked on his decision to join Twitter’s board on April 9, he shared a tweet about the most-followed Twitter account and noticed many of the accounts don’t post frequently. After failing to mention his decision earlier that day, he asked his followers, “Is Twitter dying?” In true Musk fashion, we may not know what’s next until it happens.

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