Why did Elon Musk just spend billions to take over Twitter?

AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez
A sign is pictured outside the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.

Elon Musk has taken over Twitter and fired its CEO and other top executives. Trading in company shares was suspended Friday on the New York Stock Exchange and the stock will be officially delisted early next month, according to a filing with securities regulators. So now what?


One reason why Musk bought Twitter this week is because he had little choice. The world’s richest man spent months trying to back out of the $44 billion purchase agreement he originally signed in April. But the uncertainty was so disruptive to Twitter’s business that it sued him in the Delaware Court of Chancery to force the deal’s completion, and a judge gave a Friday deadline to complete the deal or face a November trial that Musk was likely to lose.

As for why Musk wanted to own Twitter in the first place, the reasons are more complicated. “There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising,” he said in an open letter Thursday to companies that sell ads on Twitter, which is how the company makes money. “Most of it has been wrong.”


It’s not yet clear how Musk secured all of the financing to close his $44 billion agreement to buy the company and take it private. But many of the commitments to the Tesla CEO were pledged back in the spring.

A group of banks, including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, signed on earlier this year to loan $12.5 billion that Musk needed to buy Twitter and take it private. Solid contracts with Musk bound the banks to the financing, although changes in the economy and debt markets since April have likely made the terms less attractive.

Investors who would get ownership stakes in Twitter were also expected to chip in billions. Musk’s original slate of equity partners included an array of parties ranging from the billionaire’s tech world friends with like-minded ideas about Twitter’s future, such as Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, to funds controlled by Middle Eastern royalty.

Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said Friday that he and his Kingdom Holding Company rolled over a combined $1.89 billion in existing Twitter shares, making them the company’s largest shareholder after Musk. Another equity investor, the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, confirmed Friday that it put in $500 million.

The more equity investors kicked in for the deal, the less Musk would have had to pay on his own. Most of Musk’s wealth is tied up in shares of his electric car company. Since April, he has sold more than $15 billion worth of Tesla stock, presumably to pay his share.