After weeks of twists and turns on this acquisition, Elon Musk answered many questions during a videoconference relayed in particular by the New York Times and the Bloomberg agency, via anonymous sources.
The multibillionaire did not clarify how determined he was, or not, to buy Twitter.
Since the revelation of a first equity stake in early April, he has sent many contradictory signals on this issue, with tweets that are often critical and sometimes aggressive with regard to the platform where he is followed by more than 98 million users.
Thursday, when asked about his motivations, he shared his passion for the social network which is his favorite means of expression. But he is not satisfied with the financial results of the company and cited as an example the success of applications which belong to Chinese groups, TikTok and WeChat.
“Right now, costs are exceeding revenues. It’s not a great situation“, he said, according to the two news organizations.
He would like the platform to be used by a billion people. Twitter had 229 million active so-called “monetizable” users, that is to say who can be exposed to advertising on the platform, in the first quarter of this year, compared to just under 215 million at the end of 2021.
The employees mainly asked questions about the political vision of the richest man in the world, and about his intentions in terms of corporate culture and working conditions.
In April, Elon Musk said his priority was not profitability but the defense of freedom of expression in a “public square” that he considers essential to democracy.
He again underlined the importance in his view of a less strict moderation of content, within the limits defined by law. Its design clashes with that of many Twitter employees, associations and elected Democrats, who are asking social networks to better combat hate speech, harassment and misinformation.
Elon Musk, who tweeted on Wednesday that he was leaning towards the ultra-conservative Republican Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, for the 2024 US presidential election, defined himself Thursday as a “moderate” in politics.
He has felt, in the past, that Twitter was “politically oriented to the left“, because based in San Francisco, and should be “more impartial“.
The intervention of the leader of South African origin comes a few days after he demanded that Tesla employees perform at least 40 hours of work per week face-to-face, failing which they would lose their jobs.
A speech that contrasts with that of the current leaders of Twitter, who are committed to allowing the 7,500 employees to work entirely remotely, without any restrictions.
Elon Musk remained vague on this subject. According to the New York Times, he acknowledged that network employees do a different job from those who design and assemble cars, but reaffirmed his preference for face-to-face.
Regarding his role, he indicated that he wanted to play an important role in the strategic orientations and the improvement of the products. He did not specify whether he intended to lay off employees, but mentioned the consideration of performance.
On the stock market, the price of Twitter remains much lower (30% less) than the price offered in mid-April by Elon Musk, a sign that Wall Street is not yet convinced.
On Wednesday, the platform’s chairman of the board, Bret Taylor, confirmed that the group still has “the intention to finalize the transaction“.
At the beginning of June, the fiery entrepreneur threatened to withdraw his offer and accused the company’s management of “(resisting) actively” his requests for information on spam and fake accounts, Twitter finally accepting, a few hours later, from him provide the information necessary for its evaluation.
On the financing side, the richest man in the world has significantly reduced the share of loans initially planned, which now represents only 13 billion dollars out of the 44 that this buyout must cost.
To do this, he notably secured the support of several large fortunes and investment companies. On Thursday, the boss of the Binance cryptocurrency exchange, Changpeng Zhao, told AFP that he would contribute, for his part, up to 500 million dollars.