Elon Musk’s texts show how his relationship with Twitter went awry


Days before he publicly announced his investment on Twitter, Elon Musk sent a message to Jack Dorsey. Twitter’s former CEO has suggested he no longer believes in the company he founded, according to new court filings in the legal battle between Musk and Twitter.

Musk had begun quietly building a large Twitter following in January. In a March 26 text, Dorsey told Musk, “a new platform is needed. It can’t be a company. That’s why I left.”

Musk, an avid Twitter user often seen as friendly with Dorsey, responded by asking what the platform should look like. Dorsey explained his view that it should be “an open source protocol” and not rely on “an advertising model” as Twitter currently does. Dorsey added that Twitter “should never have been a company,” saying “that was the original sin.”

Musk expressed interest in promoting the idea. In a text later that day, he said: “I think it’s worth trying to move Twitter in a better direction and do something new that’s decentralized.”

The private exchanges between Dorsey and Musk are among several text messages released in court filings this week, offering new insight into the Tesla CEO’s deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion and his later attempt to exit the agreement. The messages also offer a unique window into Silicon Valley dealmaking, as a rotating cast of billionaires and industry executives slide into Musk’s text messages to discuss Twitter and, in some cases, casually offer financial backing for the deal.

In the days following his private conversation with Dorsey, Musk met with Twitter’s board and leadership. On April 5, Musk agreed to join the company’s board, a move Dorsey defended publicly and privately. In an exchange of messages with Musk later that day, Dorsey expressed confidence in Parag Agrawal, his successor as CEO of Twitter. Agrawal also expressed excitement in private texts about Musk joining the board.

But the relationship between Musk and the Twitter CEO appeared to be rapidly deteriorating.

On April 9, Musk tweeted a question: “Is Twitter dying?” Agrawal followed that day with a message letting Musk know such comments would make the CEO’s life difficult.

“Are you free to tweet ‘Twitter is dying?’ or anything about Twitter,” Agrawal said in the text to Musk, “but it’s my responsibility to tell you that it’s not helping me make Twitter better in the current context. Next time we talk, I’d like you to give me [your] perspective on the level of internal distraction at this time and how [it’s] hurting our ability to do work… I would like the company to get to a place where we are more resilient and not distracted, but we’re not there right now.”

Musk replied succinctly: “What have you been up to this week?” In two subsequent texts, he rescinded his agreement to join the board, saying: “I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of time.” He added: “I’m going to make a bid to make Twitter private.”

In a separate exchange the same day with Twitter chairman Brett Taylor, Musk said: “Fixing Twitter by talking to Parag is not going to work,” Musk said. In a subsequent text he added: “Drastic action is needed.”

Musk and Twitter announced an acquisition deal on April 25. Just over two months later, Musk said he wanted out of the deal, citing concerns about the number of bot and spam accounts on the platform. Twitter then sued Musk to force him to follow through on the deal.

The two sides are due to go to trial over the deal next month.

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