Speaking for the first time since news of his attempts to buy Twitter, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said his offer was made in the public interest.
Musk emphasized that he was motivated by the platform’s public value. “Twitter has become a kind of de facto city square. So it’s just really important that people have both the reality and the perception that they can speak freely within the confines of the law,” Musk said.
Musk spoke at the TED 2022 conference in Vancouver; the interview was opened for live streaming earlier this morning.
When asked why he wanted to buy Twitter, Musk opened with a joke. “I don’t know,” Musk told a live audience. “A little bird was tweeting in my ear or something.”
To protect that location, Musk went on to say he believes Twitter should “open up the algorithm” to build trust and ensure availability. “The code should be on Github so people can see through it,” Musk said.
Musk insisted that buying Twitter was not an economic move for him.
“This is no way to make money. My strong intuitive sense is that it is extremely important to have a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive,” he says. “So the future of civilization, but you don’t care about the economy at all.”
The interview began hours after Musk offered to buy 100 percent of the social media platform for $54.20 per share in cash, valued at approximately $43 billion. He is worth about $260 billion, according to Bloomberg, making him the richest person on Earth. In the interview, Musk says he wants to keep as many shareholders as possible.
Musk had previously explained his rationale for the takeover attempt in a letter sent this morning to Twitter chairman Bret Taylor, saying the platform is not living up to its potential as a bastion of free speech.
“I invested in Twitter because I believe in its potential to be the platform for freedom of expression around the world, and I believe that freedom of expression is a societal necessity for a functioning democracy,” he says in the letter. “Twitter has extraordinary potential. I’ll unlock it.”
It is not yet clear whether the Twitter board will approve Musk’s offer. The company has acknowledged receiving the unsolicited offer and said the board of directors “will carefully review the proposal to determine the course of action it believes is in the best interest of the company and all of Twitter’s shareholders.” The board is said to have met this morning.