Billionaire Elon Musk is already planning major changes for Twitter — and facing big obstacles as he begins his first week as the social media platform’s owner.
Twitter’s new owner has fired the company’s board of directors and made himself the sole board member, according to the company, which filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk later said on Twitter that the new fee setup was “temporary,” but he did not provide any details.
It also tests the water by asking users to pay for the test. A venture capitalist who works with Musk posted a poll on Twitter asking how much users would be willing to pay for a blue tick, which Twitter has historically used to verify high-profile accounts so other users know it’s really them.
Musk, whose account is verified, replied: “Interesting.”
Critics have derided the badge, which is often given to celebrities, politicians, business leaders and journalists, as a symbol of elite status.
But Twitter also uses the blue checkmark to vet activists and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as little-known journalists at small outlets around the world, as an additional tool to curb misinformation coming from accounts impersonating people.
“The entire verification process is now being reworked,” Musk tweeted on Sunday in response to a user asking for help with the verification.
Meanwhile, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said on Friday that he and his Kingdom Holding Company sold a total of $1.89 billion of existing Twitter stock, making them the company’s largest shareholder after Musk. The news raised concerns among some lawmakers, including Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut.
Murphy tweeted that he was asking the Committee on Foreign Investment, which reviews acquisitions of American businesses by foreign buyers, to investigate the national security implications of the kingdom’s investment in Twitter.
“We should be concerned that the Saudis, who clearly have an interest in suppressing political expression and influencing US policy, are now the second largest owner of a major social media platform,” Murphy tweeted. “There is a clear national security issue at stake, and CFIUS should conduct a review.”
After taking ownership of the social media service, Musk has invited a group of friends and investors from the tech world to help transform the San Francisco-based company, which is likely to include changes to its staff. Last week, Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal and other top executives. There was uncertainty about if and when he might begin larger layoffs.
Among those who have indicated that they are helping Musk is Sriram Krishnan, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, who promised back in the spring to participate in Musk’s plan to buy the company and take it private.
Krishnan, who is also a former head of product at Twitter, said in a tweet that this was “a very important company that could have a big impact on the world, and Elon is the man to make it happen.”
Jason Kalakanis, a venture capitalist who published a survey on whether users would pay for verification, said over the weekend that he was “hanging out on Twitter a little bit and just trying to be as helpful as possible during the transition.”
Calakanis said the team already “has a very comprehensive plan to reduce the number (and visibility) of bots, spammers and bad participants on the platform.” In a Twitter poll, he asked whether users would pay $5 to $15 a month to “get verified and blue-checked” on Twitter. Currently, Twitter is free for most users because its revenue depends on advertising.
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Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion in April, but it wasn’t until Thursday night that he finally closed the deal after his attempts to back out led to a lengthy legal battle with the company. Musk’s lawyers are now asking the Delaware Court of Chancery to dismiss the case, according to a court filing released Monday. The parties were due to go to trial in November if they did not reach a deal by the end of last week.
Since the beginning of this year, Musk has made a number of statements about how to fix Twitter, and it remains unclear which proposals he will favor.
He has promised to loosen some restrictions on content on Twitter to promote free speech, but said on Friday that no major decisions on content or the reinstatement of banned accounts would be made until a “content moderation board” with diverse viewpoints was formed. . He later clarified the remark by tweeting: “Anyone suspended for trivial and questionable reasons will be released from Twitter Jail.”
The head of the cryptocurrency exchange, which has invested $500 million in Musk’s takeover of Twitter, said he has a number of reasons to support the deal, including the possibility of Musk turning Twitter into a cryptocurrency-backed company and the concept known as Web3, which many enthusiasts envision cryptocurrency. as the next generation of the Internet.
“We want to make sure crypto has a seat at the table when it comes to free speech,” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao told CNBC on Monday. “There are more tactical things, like we want to help bring Twitter into Web3 when they’re ready.”
He said the cryptocurrency could be useful in solving some of Musk’s immediate challenges, such as a plan to charge a premium membership fee for more users.
“This can be done very easily, worldwide, using cryptocurrency as a means of payment,” he said.