I am conveniently renaming Elon Musk’s takover bid of Twitter from Limpgate to Elongate. Elongate was Elon’s preferred nomenclature for that time when he groped a stewardess or exposed himself, or, hell. I can’t be bothered to look that part up.
But it might be otherwise appropriate to name the Twitter takeover bid, one that has now on its way to the courts, Elongate as well. The Twitter board hopes it can force Musk to seal the deal, and frankly it is so full of missteps and stupidity, that Twitter just might get its way and either extract 40 billion out of him or at the very least, the 1 billion it will cost for Elon to walk away. Elon, being uber-wealthy, can afford tie this up in the courts for years, therby, uh, elongating his freedom from judgement in the public eye.
The reason Elon gives is that it’s about the number of bots. But I just think he wanted to buy his way into a power grab. Buying Twitter would be like buying his own printing press, allowing freedom of speech to him and his friends. Being a private company where he can do anything he wants, he can selectively “moderate” the users he doesn’t like, and allow that unfettered free speech he craves to users he does like. He is a businessman, not a philosopher. He just needs to point to users he hopes to bring back into the fold, such as Donald Trump, and point to him and say that allowing Trump unfettered access is proof that he honors free speech. The appearance of free speech is all the free speech Musk needs.
We all kind of sense this. Since when does an automaker become so passionate about unfettered free speech? Does he allow it for his Tesla employees? The truth is that the 70,000 Tesla employees in the United States are not unionized, and is the only car manufacturer in the United States to operate without any trade union representation. How he sees their rights, free speech and bargaining power is certainly obfuscated by Musk’s bravado and hubris regarding unions in his press releases (or really, his Twitter messages – same thing these days).
Now facing a stock market in freefall (Tesla’s stock has plummeted 34% since January), along with layoffs, and the economy tanking generally, we see a more compelling reason for Elon to want to pull out at the last minute. It is about profit, as it is always about profit. And now he is trying to use the courts to weasel out of the deal, hoping that Twitter will give up as legal costs mount, and the 1 billion dollar severance is no longer cost effective. I think that will take a long time.