Tesla CEO Elon Musk won’t join Twitter’s board after all


SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk is not joining Twitter’s board after all, a reversal following last week’s revelation that he had become Twitter’s largest shareholder — and had received a subsequent appointment to the panel.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted the news Sunday night, including a memo sent to his staff.

“Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning he will no longer be joining the board,” Agrawal wrote. “I believe this is for the best.”

Elon Musk joins Twitter board, promises ‘significant improvements’

The surprise move came less than a week after Twitter had said the outspoken Tesla CEO would become a board member, following his quietly amassing a 9.2 percent stake in the social media company. But Twitter employees and others agitated over the move, worrying Musk might wield outsize power to undo some moderation decisions that were made — including banning former president Donald Trump.

Agrawal said the company will “remain open to [Musk’s] input.” But he added, the “decisions we make and how we execute is in our hands, no one else’s,” and he urged staff to tune out “distractions.”

Twitter said it would not comment Sunday night beyond Agrawal’s statement. Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He tweeted an emoji of a face with its hand over its mouth shortly after the news broke.

Elon Musk delayed filing a form and made $156 million

Sunday’s announcement capped off an extraordinary and rapid series of events that began weeks ago when Agrawal said he first engaged with Musk in talks to join Twitter’s board. Agrawal last week welcomed Musk, who he called a “passionate believer and intense critic” to Twitter — rather than fight off an infiltration from an outside activist. Musk had only months earlier tweeted a meme superimposing the Twitter CEO’s face over that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Musk is a prolific and controversial Twitter user who has amassed more than 80 million followers on the social media site. He uses his account as a bully pulpit to rally supporters of electric car company Tesla and aerospace outfit SpaceX. He tweets memes, conducts polls, and even engages in trolling of political figures and those he views as adversaries.

His penchant for tweeting has also landed him in hot water, including a a costly settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk had to give up his board chairmanship of Tesla — subjecting himself and the company to $20 million fines apiece — after he tweeted that he had secured funding to take the company private at $420 a share in 2018.

Musk initially filed to become a so-called “passive” investor in Twitter, documents revealed, but the next day fpaperwork was filed that would alter his status to become a board member.

“We were excited to collaborate and clear about the risks,” Agrawal wrote on Sunday. “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.” Agrawal said Musk’s appointment was continent on “a background check and formal acceptance.”

On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Agrawal was scheduling a town hall with Musk where employees could ask him questions about his intentions and role.

Musk launched a poll the day his investment became public asking whether Twitter should add an edit button, something that would allow users to edit tweets after posting them. Twitter later weighed in and said such a feature had been in development for months and was not influenced by a poll.

Late last week he tweeted a meme of himself smoking a joint with the words “Twitter’s next board meeting is gonna be lit.”

Over the weekend, Musk took aim at numerous aspects of the company, including its reliance on advertising — even for its subscription service — and the prevalence of spam accounts. He posted data showing Twitter’s top accounts and asked “Is Twitter dying?”

Also on Saturday, the day his board appointment was supposed to become official, he even took an apparent dig at the company’s indefinite remote work policy. He launched a poll asking whether the San Francisco office should be made into a homeless shelter “since no one shows up anyway.”

It wasn’t Musk’s first poll about Twitter. Before his investments in the company became public, Musk conducted a series of polls seemingly aimed at influencing Twitter’s future.

He asked whether Twitter’s algorithm should be made public, or open-source; and a day later he asked whether Twitter “rigorously adheres” to free speech principles.

“Is a new platform needed?” he later asked.

Elon Musk to address Twitter staff after internal outcry

Musk has emerged as one of the platform’s most high-profile critics, questioning its role in restricting who and who cannot join.

After Trump was banned in the days following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, Musk wrote that “a lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech.”

Musk’s board appointment limited his stake in the company at 14.9 percent. Now that he will not have a board seat, he is free to continue to invest beyond that figure.


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