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Parag Agrawal's snub sparked Elon Musk's Twitter takeover

by on13 February 2024

Nothing to do with free speech

Former Twitter boss Parag Agrawal's knockback of Elon [look at me] Musk's bid to silence a jet-tracking account sparked a chain over-reaction that led to Musk's dodgy buyout of the platform.

A new book claims that when the Indian-American software whiz refused to bin a handle tracking Musk's private jet, the billionaire got back at him by buying Twitter shares, leading to his buyout of the platform and its parent company.  This allowed Musk to fire Agrawal.

Battle for the Bird, a book by Bloomberg's Kurt Wagner, says that Musk was already miffed with Agrawal, with whom he'd had a short text row weeks earlier after Agrawal told off Musk for some of his tweets."

"Musk had also tried to get Agrawal to bin a Twitter account that was tracking his private plane; the billionaire started buying Twitter shares soon after Agrawal said no," Wagner says in his book.

"He's a really nice guy. What Twitter needs is a fire-breathing dragon, and Parag is not that," Musk had said after meeting with Agrawal in March 2022.

Musk had asked Agrawal to block ElonJet, a handle run by American coder Jack Sweeney, a University of Central Florida student. The account (now banned) kept track of the Tesla chief's carbon footprint and had over 500k fans in its prime.

Musk offered to pay Sweeney $5,000 (£3.9k) to pack it in. But Sweeney wanted $50,000 (£39.5k) or a work placement in one of Musk's companies. Musk decided it didn't "feel right" to pay and shut the account.

ElonJet was finally banned a year after a stalker followed a car with Musk's 2-year-old son X Æ A-12, thinking Musk was inside. The SpaceX boss said on the platform that action was being taken "against Sweeney and groups who backed harm to my family".

After buying Twitter shares, Musk got in touch with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey to find a spot on the company's board, but that move was stopped. Not put off by these problems, Musk started the push to buy Twitter with Dorsey's help.

Musk finished the buyout at $44 (£34.84) billion in October of that year. According to Musk's life story, by Walter Isaacson, Twitter reminded the billionaire of his old dream of making an "everything app" while meeting his constant need to reach the next level in life -- which we hope will be death.

A California court sided with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ordering Musk to answer more questions about his buyout of Twitter on February 12. Saying the SEC's probe was fair and the asked-for testimony was relevant, the judge said no to Musk's arguments that the questions were irrelevant and were harassment.

US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler gave the order over the weekend, making official a previous maybe ruling made in December that liked the SEC's position. In 2022, Musk had spoken to the SEC twice in half-day sessions.

The SEC investigated whether Musk followed the rules and didn't lie about his Twitter share buys and plans. On the other hand, Musk thinks the probe is rubbish and has enough money to ignore it.

But the agency says it has since received "thousands of new documents" from various groups, including some by Musk. The agency wants to ask Musk about the new information.

Last modified on 13 February 2024
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