Elon Musk has reversed his decision to join Twitter’s board of directors after disclosing he owns more than 9 percent of the social media company, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said.
Musk’s appointment to the board was to become official on Saturday pending a background check and formal acceptance, “but Elon shared that same morning that he will no longer be joining the board,” Agrawal wrote in a brief message to the company that he tweeted on Sunday.
“The Board and I had many discussions about Elon joining the board, and with Elon directly. 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,” he said.
“I believe this is for the best,” Agrawal wrote. “We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.”
Musk has not addressed his decision but cheekily tweeted a giggling emoji with a hand covering its mouth early Monday morning.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO was invited to join the board one day after disclosing a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter last Monday, becoming its largest shareholder.
Just days earlier, he publicly trashed the company, which he called “the de facto public town square,” for “failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy” and mulled launching his own social media platform.
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk asked users in a Twitter poll on March 28, in which over 70 percent of the 2 million voters responded “yes.”
Musk — the richest person in the world with a fortune of more than $287 billion, according to Forbes — bought some 73.5 million shares of the company, worth an estimated $2.89 billion, according to an SEC filing.
The massive purchase may have violated federal law, according to financial experts. After the billionaire filed his disclosure forms, Twitter’s share price skyrocketed 30 percent.
Musk’s acquisition and appointment to the board divided Twitter employees, with some praising the stock bump and changes “Daddy Elon” could bring to the company by loosening its speech restrictions while others feared the outspoken, brash South African would hurt the social media giant.
To pacify anxious employees, Musk offered to host an internal “ask me anything” forum to answer their questions, Agrawal said in a company email on Thursday. It’s not clear if Twitter still plans to hold the event with Musk no longer joining the board.
Since becoming the company’s largest shareholder, Musk has pitched several changes he has been considering to the Twitterverse, including adding an edit button and charging a $3 month “Twitter Blue” for users who would receive an official blue checkmark next to their user handle.
He also proposed ending advertisements on the site.
“And no ads. The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive,” he tweeted on Friday evening — after he reportedly declined the board position.
He also suggested on Friday that Twitter is “dying,” noting that Twitter’s most-followed accounts rarely even post on the platform. He called out Justin Bieber — the number two most-followed account behind former President Barack Obama — for only tweeting once in the past year.
In his letter, Agrawal concluded that despite distractions “our goals and priorities remain unchanged.”
“The decisions we make and how we execute is in our hands, no one else’s,” he wrote. “Let’s tune out the noise and stay focused on the work and what we’re building.”