Elon Musk Isn’t the First to Want to Buy Twitter | WSJ

– [Narrator] This is the
first tweet ever posted by Twitter's co-founder, Jack Dorsey. And this is a tweet by Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, announcing a $43 billion bid to take over the platform 16 years later. His offer sparked national coverage. – Billionaire Elon Musk,
he's offered to buy Twitter. – For $54.20 cents a share. – And says he now wants to turn Twitter into the world's
"platform for free speech." – [Narrator] Since that
first tweet in 2006, several different contenders
have looked to acquire Twitter. Let's look back at
Twitter's previous suitors to figure out why those
ultimately fell through and what could be
different about this one. Central to understanding
Twitter's battle for leadership is co-founder Jack Dorsey.

– Jack Dorsey comes with this
generation of entrepreneurs in the Valley who really saw
a new way of communicating. But Twitter has been a company that has long had its ups and downs. – [Narrator] Dorsey's first
run as CEO ended after one year amid concerns that he was
distracted by other hobbies. But in 2015, after he had
founded another company, and as Twitter looked to
revive its sagging user growth, Dorsey was reappointed to the position. The hope was that his founder title would afford him the leeway to
make more significant changes than Twitter's previous CEO. – It was seen as a huge comeback. There was comparisons to when
Steve Jobs returned to Apple. – [Narrator] Just one year after
Dorsey reclaimed the reins, and nearly three since
the company's flashy IPO, some of the biggest names
in tech and entertainment looked to buy Twitter. – Jack Dorsey has said essentially Twitter is always for sale, has always been for sale.

The issue around Twitter is that it's, there's often seen as this potential prize that big tech could buy. And that's kind of what
Jack Dorsey's getting at, is that there's this thing out here that people think that
if they gussy it up, it could have incredible value. – [Narrator] In September 2016, CNBC reported that the
software company Salesforce was considering a takeover
of the social media company. Salesforce already had a
partnership with Twitter, which began in 2012.

That alliance allowed Twitter
to feed social media data into Salesforce's analytic systems. – At the time, the interest
in Twitter was simple. It was about the data. Salesforce thought there
was useful information to be gleaned and that it could have value
to its corporate customers. – [Narrator] At the same time, the Walt Disney Company
considered an offer of its own. In this case, it was Twitter's
moves into sports streaming, rather than a focus on data, that attracted the attention
of then-CEO, Robert Iger. – ESPN, a sports property
within the Disney family, was exploring those efforts, and they thought there
might be a potential that Twitter could beef up that offering. – [Narrator] And then, there
was Google's parent, Alphabet. For several years, the
tech company's dominance in search and advertising
caused some analysts to speculate that it would be
best suited to buy Twitter.

pexels photo 4559600

But the company choosing to
focus on its other ventures, like driverless cars and
artificial intelligence, ultimately didn't follow
through with an offer. Salesforce was the final
suitor remaining in 2016, after others like Disney grew skittish over Twitter's image. – Disney has a lot of brands within it, but at the core of that company
is family entertainment. And one of the things that you
increasingly see on Twitter is a lot of unfamily-like activities. It's easy to understand why a company most associated with Mickey Mouse might not want to get into the gutter. – [Narrator] Ultimately,
Salesforce walked away from pursuing a combination too. – One of the challenges for any company thinking about buying Twitter is you are stepping into a tech company, but you're also stepping into a company that has enormous policy
decisions on its plate right now regarding freedom of speech, regarding content moderation.

– [Narrator] The policy
concerns of buyers like Disney are now the reason for Musk's
desire to acquire Twitter. – Elon Musk has framed
his interest in Twitter simply as fighting to protect
the freedom of speech. Elon seems to be motivated
by his civic concerns. Now, we cannot kind of divorce
the reality of the situation and that is Elon Musk
would benefit perhaps. – [Narrator] In a Ted Talk on April 14th, Musk provided further details about his plan to take Twitter private. – I should also say that the intent is to retain as many shareholders as is allowed by the law in a private company, which I
think is around 2,000 or so. – Elon Musk's comments about wanting to keep
shareholders involved in Twitter raised a lot of red flags with people who have watched
him operate in the past. It's something similar he said when he wanted to take Tesla private.

And there are rules
about how many investors can be involved in
these private companies. And that is one of the things that when he killed that
deal to take Tesla private was pointed at and is
part of the rationale for why it didn't work. – [Narrator] But if his offer is accepted, he won't be the first billionaire to own a key player in the media. – There is a long history
of people with money looking for trophy purchases that give them power and influence. And for Elon Musk, owning Twitter, controlling that pipeline into millions and
millions of people's lives around the world, that would be incredibly powerful and it would give him some assurance that he could continue to use that tool. – [Narrator] Musk may
not be the only suitor for the company. Some private equity firms
are now circling as well, but it's still too early to know if any will make a formal bid.

In the meantime, Twitter has adopted a poison pill that makes it hard for
shareholders to build their stake beyond a set point in
response to Musk's bid. (upbeat music).

As found on YouTube

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