It appears that Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is finally—finally! finally!—going through this week. As the Diplomats would say, I really mean it.
Yes, this saga is nearly over. Last time we were here, the Elon Musk Shenanigans Watch described a vibe shift that signaled cooling tensions between Musk and Twitter’s lawyers, who seemed to be quietly negotiating toward a closing. The social network locked down its employee stock accounts, Musk dealt with his financing, and tech reporters everywhere crossed their fingers. (There was also a possible national security probe into Musk, though that now appears to be a nothingburger.)
Bloomberg reported this week that Musk held a Monday videoconference with some of the banks helping to fund his purchase, during which he “pledged” he’d close this thing by Friday—the deadline set down by a Delaware Court of Chancery judge. Late on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported, Musk formally sent a borrowing notice to those banks, which will now place the $13 billion in debt financing they agreed to provide him in an escrow account. Matt Levine is probably correct in predicting that this chaotic tech celebrity will keep things dangling until the last possible minute on Friday.
Elsewhere, though, there are signs Musk is done threatening a Lucy-with-the-football move. On his own Twitter profile, he added a new bio—“Chief Twit”—and set his location to “Twitter HQ.” The platform’s chief marketing officer sent an internal message to employees informing them they’ll get hear from their incoming boss on Friday; Twitter stock rose following the news. Musk also told his soon-to-be workers on Wednesday that, actually, he won’t ax three-quarters of Twitter’s workforce after all, though no one seemed all that reassured. Meanwhile, their incoming boss has been tweeting (tweeting!) very nice things about the company, in between shots at the New York Times, and he’s written a high-minded open letter to Twitter advertisers in the apparent hope of preventing an exodus.
Setting aside that decade-old trope about social media and journalism, what really happens next? Major social media companies are taking big financial hits this year thanks to slumping ad revenue, and Twitter may be in an especially precarious spot, having lost, according to internal documents obtained by Reuters, many of its most active and highest-profile users over the past couple years. With the Musk acquisition imminent, many Twitter users say they’re already looking to the exits, and it’s true that a sudden influx of nasty and extreme users would make the experience worse for everyone else. As PEN America’s CEO wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Musk’s plans to “dial back safeguards on the platform that are there to protect against disinformation”—in the name of “free speech”—could endanger the future of free and fair discourse on Twitter. Meanwhile, Musk is having big trouble with one of his other businesses: Reuters reported Tuesday that Tesla is being investigated by the Justice Department over its self-driving cars, and the corporation’s shares dropped a touch after it cut the prices of some of its cars on the Chinese market.
Shenanigans Ruling: They seem light to nonexistent going into the final stretch of this deal, pun silliness aside. But Musk’s shenanigans didn’t begin with the Twitter deal, and they certainly won’t end there.