Elon Musk sued by shareholders Twitter: war has been declared

It’s clear that there have been more spectacular twists on Twitter in ten days than in an entire season of the Lights of Love. The latest episode, this Tuesday, April 13, launches the reaction of certain social network shareholders against Elon Musk, the erratic billionaire who seems determined to play the troublemakers.

One of them, Marc Bain Rasella, federated shareholders file a collective complaint for “fraud” with the US stock market regulator, the Securities Exchanges Commission (SEC). They accuse Elon Musk of keeping the Twitter share price artificially low, by failing to announce his rise in the capital of the social network in a timely manner.

Did Elon Musk knowingly forget to speak out to take advantage of Twitter’s price weakness?

Indeed, from the moment Elon Musk crossed 5% of the capital, which happened on March 14, he was required by law to report this breach of the threshold to the SEC within ten days, i.e. March 24 at the latest. But he waited to rise to 9.2% of the capital to complete the famous dossier, entitled “Schedule 13”. Elon Musk complied on April 4, ten days late. And during this time, the boss of Tesla and Space-X increased from 5% to 9.2% of the capital of the blue bird.

Hence the anger of the shareholders, some of whom sold all or part of their shares in the period from March 24 to April 4. Since the announcement of Elon Musk’s rise in the company’s capital led to a sharp rebound in his share value (+27% in one day), these shareholders believe that “forgetting” the billionaire kept them from profit from the price increase, and that this would have allowed the entrepreneur to continue acquiring shares at an artificially low price. However, the price increase would certainly have been less strong with a Musk at 5% instead of 9.2%.

Ten days of great tension on Twitter

This offensive by certain shareholders – their number is not yet known – has further increased the pressure within Twitter since Elon Musk became its largest shareholder. From provocations to provocations, relations between Twitter’s management and the world’s richest man are rapidly deteriorating, to the point where you wonder if war hasn’t finally been officially declared.

The first episode is on Monday, April 4. That day, Elon Musk announced to everyone’s surprise that it had acquired 9.2% of the social network’s capitalfor nearly 2.9 billion dollars, becomes the first shareholder. In his letter to the SEC, he indicated that he had no intention of become an activist shareholder. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that since January, which corresponds to the purchase of his first Twitter shares, the erratic entrepreneur has multiplied criticism of the social network, accusing it of muzzling free speech and openly criticizing it. on its management by Parag Agrawal, the CEO since November last year and the sideline of its founder and emblematic CEO, Jack Dorsey.

the gallery I then wondered Would Elon Musk rather invest in a well-known social network, despite growth challenges, and thus “influence” the direction of an established company and platform, rather than create one from scratch?”

Elon Musk did not wait long to confirm his interventionist will. That same evening he launched his first offensivea poll to find out if users want to be able to edit their tweets afterwards. harmless? Not really. Because if it is an old and popular request among Twitter users who want to be able to correct their mistakes when writing in a hurry. Jack Dorsey’s former management vehemently opposed it because of the potential abuses related to online harassment or misinformation. For example, the founder stated in 2020 that the button “edit” would not see “probably never” day.

The new management was less closed. So Twitter hired a project manager in 2021 to develop and test this feature, which was announced as a joke on April 1, 2022. Parag Agrawal then clarified that discussions in previous weeks with Elon Musk had played into this decision, which could drastically change the user experience.

plate offensive

Tuesday, April 5, the day after the announcement of Elon Musk’s capital increase, Twitter offered its new first shareholder — also accused of possible price manipulation by the financial market agent for comments on the social network — a seat on the company’s board of directors. .

CEO Parag Agrawal made the announcement in a tweet: “I am pleased to announce that we are appointing Elon Musk to the board of directors! Discussions with Elon over the past few weeks had made it clear that he would be of great value to our Board of Directors.” he explainedElon Musk then replied, still in public: “I look forward to working with Parag and the Twitter Board to make major improvements to Twitter in the coming months!”

But was it a win for Elon Musk and a Parag Agrawal entry, or was it a poisoned gift to curb the aggressiveness of the new prime shareholder? Because by accepting a position on the board of directors until 2024, Elon Musk has thus prevented him from growing up to more than 14.9% of the capital of the company. He certainly could have tried to influence the company’s strategy through the board of directors – and his strike power, thanks to his 80 million followers, is real – but the majority of him would still have had to validate his requests.

A weekend full of provocative messages

For a few days, Elon Musk seemed to choose the option of pressuring the board of directors by massively “trolling” the social network. On Thursday, he published a “meme” featuring a famous photo showing him holding a joint in a halo of smoke, with the caption: “lthe next Twitter board is going to tearHe also agreed to meet Twitter employees for a Q&A session, pretending he was the company’s new leader.

He went even further on Saturday. Is Twitter dying?he asked, illustrating his point by the fact that most of the social network’s “super accounts” — those with the most subscribers like Barack Obama, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Lady Gaga… — rarely post content.

Even more “troll”, Elon Musk published two other tweets over the weekend, which must have shoved Parag Agrawal down his throat. The first was a survey, with the options“yes” or “of course” to the question”Should the ‘w’ be removed from Twitter?“. In the second he suggested to “turn the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco into a shelter for the homeless“, because “no one is going† [sic]†

open war

And finally, Elon Musk has – again – changed his mind. Monday 11 April he refused his seat on the board of directors† And not in the most elegant way: according to a post from CEO Parag Agrawal, richest man in the world according to Forbes just stood up to the leaders when he publicly hinted that he was going to sit down.

Elon’s appointment to the board was to take effect on April 9, but Elon told us the same day that he would not be joining.Agrawal wrote, before adding: Elon is our largest shareholder and we remain open to his ideas“. An hour after the CEO’s message, the concerned director was satisfied to respond by publishing the emoji “giggle“…without further comment.

From now on, there is room for the reaction of certain shareholders in court with the financial market regulator. Neither Elon Musk nor Parag Agrawal responded, the first who hadn’t posted anything on the social network since April 11. What will his next move be?