Home News Twitter Has Entered the Elon Musk Twilight Zone

Twitter Has Entered the Elon Musk Twilight Zone


The other two outcomes combined are more likely, Ives said, with Musk either buying Twitter for the agreed $44 billion or leaving after a settlement in which he paid the company between $5 billion and $10 billion dollar loss. “The stock takes into account the significant possibility that Musk will eventually have to pay Twitter more than $1 billion in a major settlement, and may still have to acquire the company at the agreed price,” Ives said.

The prospect of Twitter reversing logic and Musk eventually owning the social network he now seems dismissive has worried some employees and users. “Even though it’s clear that Musk is the last thing Twitter needs in the world, no one is going to put the brakes on this deal,” said Brianna Wu, a former video game developer and founder of progressive political action group Rebellion PAC. “Investors want it to pass. The board will make billions and they will go to court to force a resolution.”

How did a business deal agreed to by both parties and backed by some of the world’s biggest banks become so chaotic? Javier Marcos Cuevas, associate professor at the Cranfield School of Management, described Twitter’s process of bringing it here as a “commitment escalation” that forced both Musk and Twitter to reverse their initial stance.

Musk initially had to offer a relatively high price to be considered a credible buyer, Marcos Cuevas said. “What could have happened at the time was that he realized he was paying too much after seeing what analysts were saying about the price,” he said. This feeling is exacerbated by a general downturn in financial markets shortly after the deal closes. Twitter’s lawsuit says it’s the main driver behind Musk’s claims about the robotics problem.

On Twitter, Marcos Cuevas believes that the company’s leadership has gone from thinking the company is worth paying a premium to, to no longer believing it can sell the company. That reversal makes it worthwhile to try to force Musk to complete a deal, secure a high price on offer, or force a hefty payout. “Expectations on both sides have been completely reframed,” Marcos Cuevas said, “leading to a lack of trust and confidence and a fundamental review of their original positions.”

Many Twitter employees worry that Musk will be a poor steward of the company and its services. Managers told them not to discuss acquisitions or Musk on Slack, one employee said, suspecting executives had a more positive view of the deal. “I think a lot of senior leaders are more supportive of Elon than employees,” the employee said. “They own Tesla, they have stock, they like Musk’s mentality.”

If Musk ends up in power, Williams suggested he might defuse tensions by appointing someone else to run the company. “It smoothes out ruffled feathers,” she said.

Right now, life in the Twilight Zone is haunting Twitter employees. Cornet, the cartoonist who captures the company’s woes, can feel it among his colleagues. “There’s probably a certain degree of fatigue,” he said. “New twists and turns pile up.”

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