The prospect of Elon Musk wrangling control of Twitter Inc. elicited a wide range of reaction — most of it revulsion — among current and former employees of the company.
A handful who spoke with MarketWatch on the condition that they not be named said the mercurial Musk would decimate Twitter’s
brand and reputation, especially if he were to re-admit controversial figures jettisoned from the platform, should he be successful with an unsolicited bid.
The pushback among the rank-and-file started when Musk announced in April he acquired 9.1% of the company’s shares outstanding to become its largest shareholder, and has only intensified after his vow to transform Twitter into the world’s “platform for free speech” with his all-out bid of $43 billion. [Twitter has called an all-staff meeting late Thursday.]
But they all also are adamant the doomsday scenario is unlikely because the world’s richest man and Tesla Inc.
CEO made a low-ball bid that Twitter’s board is almost certain to reject.
Ultimately Musk’s gambit, however serious, could force Twitter’s board to consider other acquisition offers in addition to Musk as part of a fiduciary duty.
That, in turn, could put Twitter in play for another corporate suitor, possibly Google parent Alphabet Inc.
Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.
or a media conglomerate like Comcast Corp.
There is a catch to that storyline, though: Should any big tech company scoop up Twitter, it would promptly meet resistance from either the Federal Trade Commission or Justice Department on antitrust grounds.
The FTC is currently locked in a legal battle with Facebook over its purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp.
“I think it is likely to run into far too many antitrust headwinds — and complicate matters for Google in ways they don’t really want these days,” Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of global business at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, told MarketWatch.
One intriguing possibility is Apple Inc.
which, Chakravorti said, “wants to move even further beyond TV into news and other content.”
“Apple has the resources to go into a bidding war with Musk,” he said. “It is also not likely to face the same antitrust roadblocks. I know Musk has said it is his last offer, but that man changes his mind all the time — mostly to keep the attention on himself and his Twitter feed.”