Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter Inc. (TWTR), has been an active presence on the social networking website for many years now. The billionaire entrepreneur regularly uses his account to discuss whatever is on his mind—whether that be someone he has a problem with, politics, investment markets, business ventures, or just some really random thought—and has a tendency to invite controversy.
A few of his tweets are correlated with various asset prices rapidly rising or falling. Others seem to trigger lawsuits and regulatory investigations. But his tweets have earned him a pretty big fan club along the way. As of early 2023, Musk is the second most followed user on the platform, ahead of Justin Beiber and topped only by Barack Obama.
- Elon Musk uses Twitter to make jokes and share his opinions, which often happen to be controversial.
- He's one of the most-followed Twitter user and is highly influential.
- Musk is renowned for poking fun at people who cross him, weighing in on global events, manipulating asset prices, and sharing his thoughts on how Twitter should be run.
- His tweets about Twitter still generate a lot of attention now that he has purchased the company.
Making Fun of People
Musk is known for lashing out at people on social media, particularly those who cross him. A few days before striking a deal to buy Twitter, Musk mocked Bill Gates by tweeting a photo of him alongside an emoji depicting a pregnant man. The joke, intended to make fun of Gates' weight, was made off the back of speculation that the Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) co-founder shorted Tesla Inc. (TSLA) stock.
It isn't just high-profile figures that Musk taunts. On one occasion, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX was sued for defamation for calling a diver working to rescue boys trapped in a cave in Thailand a 'pedo.' Musk made the controversial comment after the diver mocked Musk's proposal to use a mini-submarine crafted out of a SpaceX rocket part to assist in the rescue mission.
Musk craves attention and isn't afraid to offend or get in trouble for expressing his opinions. Classic examples include criticizing Democrat proposals to launch a billionaire tax and downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic. Musk spoke out against lockdowns and compared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Hitler because of his vaccine mandates.
Musk has also come out with some random, borderline crazy stuff, presumably with the aim of getting people's attention. In the past, he's talked about a desire to nuke Mars and buy The Coca-Cola Corporation (KO) so that he can "put the cocaine back in."
Sending Cryptocurrency Markets Crazy
Another thing Musk hasn't been able to stay quiet about is cryptocurrency, which apparently he's a fan of. However, Musk is also hugely influential, meaning any time he talks about an investable asset its valuation tends to fluctuate significantly.
In 2021, he professed his love for dogecoin (DOGE) and told the world that it's possible to buy Tesla products with bitcoin (BTC). These declarations led the prices of both assets to soar.
Toying With Tesla's Share Price
It's not just the prices of various cryptocurrencies that Musk has affected with his tweets. He's also used the platform to alter how much shares of his company trade for.
In 2018, Musk got into trouble for misleadingly tweeting that he was considering taking Tesla private after securing the necessary funding. That tweet led Tesla's shares to soar and the regulators to get angry. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Musk of fraud, hit him with a fine, and ordered him never to tweet information about the company again without first getting the approval of other Tesla executives and the company's lawyers.
Musk mainly abided but now and then couldn't resist the chance to flout the rules a bit. In 2020, he drove down Tesla's share price by claiming that it was too high. Then, in 2021, he asked his Twitter followers if he should sell a 10% stake in the car manufacturer, prompting further action from the SEC.
Musk has also had plenty to say about Twitter over the years. The billionaire has spoken of his admiration for the social networking service in the past, although lately, his comments have turned much more negative.
Among other things, he's criticized Twitter for spending engineering resources on creating NFT profile pictures, not making its algorithm public, and not upholding the principles of free speech. Musk's obsession with the latter began around the time the SEC limited what he could write about. And he is now claiming that defending free speech is the main reason why he wants to buy Twitter.
How Much Is Musk Paying for Twitter?
Musk agreed to pay $54.20 per share in cash to acquire Twitter in a deal that valued the company at roughly $44 billion before it went private.
Does Twitter Make Money?
Before the acquisition, Twitter generated revenues through two main channels: advertising and data licensing. It had consistently struggled to turn a profit at that time. Since the acquisition many changes have been made, but as a private company it needn't share its financial performance. In early February 2023, Musk tweeted:
“Twitter still has challenges, but is now trending to break even if we keep at it. Public support is much appreciated!” He has thus created the expectation that the company will become profitable with continued work.
How Many Followers Does Elon Musk Have on Twitter?
As of Feb. 27, 2023, Musk had nearly 130 million followers, making him the second-highest followed user on Twitter, close on the heels of Barack Obama at 133 million.
The Bottom Line
Musk's often controversial tweets have crafted a public image of him as a joker, rebel, freethinker, bully, and sometimes just a regular Joe.
Readers' reactions to Musk's tweets have varied widely. Much of what he tweeted about before the acquisition has taken place, but not all of it. More changes could still be forthcoming, including making algorithms open source, and new algorithms for monetizing content.