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Elon Musk’s smartphone has been bombarded by billionaires, executives, bankers, and other notable figures from tech, finance, and media, all hoping to get a piece of his wild and wayward $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.
Hundreds of his private text conversations were just released as part of Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk, who is trying back out of the deal. Among those who showed up are fellow tech billionaires like former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison, and FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who was also interested in buying Twitter and offered Musk $5 billion to get in on his eventual deal, text logs show.
Then there are the likes of TV personality Gayle King, who wanted Musk for a sit-down interview, podcaster Joe Rogan, Justin Roiland, co-creator of “Rick and Morty,” and Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Insider parent company Axel Springer. James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn Murdoch make individual appearances, too.
Musk also had extensive back and forth with Twitter executives, including board chair and Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal. Talk between Musk and Agrawal went south quickly, prompting Musk to reveal that he’d decided to buy Twitter instead of join its board because a board seat was “a waste of time.” Brother Kimball Musk was a frequent confidant on Musk’s ideas for Twitter, or a possible competing platform.
Also notable in Musk’s texts are the various people he solicited for either financing for the $44 billion deal or advice on running the company. Many others reached out to him to offer their help, thoughts, or sometimes money. David Sacks was invited to invest. Reid Hoffman, too, eventually suggesting he could put $2 billion toward a deal. Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce, shows up to talk about a new operating system for Twitter. Musk friends Jason Calacanis and Tim Urban offer to help, along with VC’s Joe Lonsdale, Adeo Russi and Riot Games founder Marc Merrill. Musk texted Sean Parker once to say he was doing “Twitter diligence calls” from his mother’s apartment.
The log makes clear that, at least at one point, Musk was serious about acquiring Twitter. Not until early May did Musk begin to discuss any concerns about the platform. That began with an exchange with Morgan Stanley tech banker Michael Grimes in which Musk asks him to “slow down” on the deal. The majority of the texts shown in the log span between March and mid-June, a few weeks before Musk sent Twitter a letter attempting to cancel the deal altogether. Now Musk is locked in a legal battle with the company, which is trying to force him to acquire it.
See below for highlights of the juiciest exchanges between Musk and other Twitterati:
Dorsey and Musk exchanged many texts in the days before Musk’s involvement in Twitter became public.
The first text between the two the appears on the log is from March 26, before Musk’s investment more than 9% investment in Twitter became public. “A new platform is needed. It can’t be a company. That’s why I left,” Dorsey wrote. The two proceeded to discuss what the future of Twitter should look like.
About a week later, on April 5 when it was announced Musk would be joining Twitter’s board, he texted Dorsey to set up a time to “speak confidentially.”
A few days later, Musk pointed to phone conversations he’d had with Dorsey as supportive of his decision to take the company private. In one text to board chair Bret Taylor from April 10, two days after he told Agrawal he intended to buy the company and not sit on its board, Musk wrote:
“It’s better in my opinion to take Twitter private, restructure and return to the public markets one that is done. That was also Jack’s view when I spoke to him.”
Joe Rogan in March 2019.
Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images
Musk has spoken to Rogan on his podcast twice, in one 2018 interview infamously smoking weed, leading to some corporate headaches for the Tesla CEO. Rogan first texted Musk about Twitter April 4, the day Musk’s stake in Twitter became public, asking “Are you going to liberate twitter from the censorship happy mob?”
“I will provide advice, which they may or may not choose to follow,” Musk replied.
A few weeks later, after Musk had offered to acquire Twitter, Rogan on April 25 texted again. “I REALLY hope you get Twitter. If you do, we should throw one hell of a party,” Rogan said. Musk replied with the “100” emoji.
Things appear to have started off friendly between Musk and Parag Agrawal, who took over from Dorsey as Twitter CEO less than a year ago. They texted about meeting in person with Taylor, the text log shows, as well as other video meetings. They touched on things that needed to improve on Twitter and Agrawal said April 3, a few days before Musk’s decision to join the board became public, he was “super excited about the opportunity and look forward to working closely and finding ways to use your time as effectively as possible.”
The mood shifted quickly after Agrawal texted Musk on April 9, regarding Musk’s asking on Twitter “Is Twitter dying?”
Agrawal told Musk he was free to Tweet anything he wanted about Twitter, “But it’s my responsibility to tell you that it’s not helping me make Twitter better in the current context. Next time we speak, I’d like to provide you perspective on the level of internal distraction right now and how its hurting our ability to do work.”
Musk responded about 30 minutes later asking “What did you get done this week?” He immediately followed up with, “I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of time” and added, “Will make an offer to take Twitter private.”
Agrawal asked to get on the phone with Musk, who appears to have refused, as Taylor followed up a few minutes later, saying Agrawal had informed him of “your text conversation.” Taylor asked to speak on the phone, too. Musk simply said “Please expect a take private offer.” Taylor tried again to speak by phone, wanting to “understand the context.”
“Fixing Twitter by chatting with Parag won’t work,” Musk wrote back. “Drastic action is needed.”
“This is hard to do as a public company, as purging fake users will make the numbers look terrible, so restructuring should be done as a private company. This is Jack’s opinion too.”
Musk again refused to get on the phone with Taylor, saying he was “about to take off” but could talk the following day.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Musk and Ellison also texted a number of times, with Ellison expressing support for Musk’s effort to buy Twitter from the outset. On March 27, Ellison texted Musk to set up a call: “I do think we need another Twitter.”
When Musk on April 20 asked the Oracle founder if he wanted to take part in financing the deal, Ellison wrote: “Yes, of course.” He offered to put up “A billion… or whatever you recommend.” Musk recommend $2 billion, but Ellison only ended up putting in the $1 billion he initially offered.
“This has very high potential and I’d rather have you than anyone else,” Musk wrote to Ellison.
“I agree that it has huge potential… and it would be lots of fun,” Ellison replied.
Samuel Bankman-Fried f
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Will MacAskill, an advisor to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, texted Musk on March 29 in hopes of connecting the two about Twitter, about two weeks before Musk moved to take over the company. It’s unclear whether Musk knew immediately who Bankman-Fried was, as he asked MacAskill “you vouch for him?” after MacAskill suggested Bankman-Fried had been interested in buying Twitter “for a while” and was open to working with Musk “about a possible joint effort in that direction.”
To that Musk replied, “Does he have huge amounts of money?” MacAskill said he was worth $24 billion and that he’d already mentioned contributing $1 billion to $8 billion into any deal for Twitter, a number that could potentially have gone up to $15 billion with financing.
Musk did not appear very interested. Bankman-Fried texted Musk directly April 1, saying he was “happy to chat about Twitter (or other things) whenever!” Musk responded “Hi!” adding that he was currently in Germany. Bankman-Fried offered to call at a time that worked for Musk’s time zone, but there are no texts in the log showing that Musk responded. Bankman-Fried texted again about two weeks later, after Musk’s offer to acquire Twitter was in full swing, saying he would “love to talk about Twitter.” Musk does not appear to have responded.
Morgan Stanley’s Grimes then tried to connect Musk with Bankman-Fried on April 25, saying he could put $5 billion into Musk’s deal to buy Twitter. Musk disliked Grimes’ text explaining briefly who Bankman-Fried is and suggesting a meeting. But wrote of a meeting, “So long as I don’t have to have a laborious blockchain debate.”
Joe Lonsdale’s comments sparked outrage online.
Brian Ach/Getty Images
Before Musk’s stake in Twitter became public, he began posting questions and polls to his many millions of followers on the platform about what its future should look like. Joe Lonsdale, cofounder of Palantir and an outspoken political conservative, texted Musk in response to a March 24 post he made asking “Should Twitter be an open source?”
Lonsdale wrote to Musk saying he loved the question and he was going to bring it up at a “GOP policy retreat” he was heading to the next day. “Now I can cite you so I’ll sound less crazy myself :). Our public squares need to not have arbitrary sketchy censorship.”
“Absolutely,” Musk replied. “What we have now is hidden corruption!”
Gayle King (left)
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon
King texted Musk a few times in an attempt to get him to do a sit-down interview with her. The first was on April 6, when King wrote: “Have you missed me. Are you ready to do a proper sit down with me? so much to discuss! Especially with your Twitter play… what do I need to do???”
Musk responded by downplaying his involvement at the time, saying, “The whole Twitter thing is getting blown out of proportion” and “Owning ~9% is not quite control.”
Gayle texted Musk again about two weeks later, after Musk offered to buy Twitter outright.
“ELON! You buying Twitter or offering to buy Twitter wow! Now don’t you think we should sit down together face to face this is as the kids say a ‘gangsta move’ I dont know how shareholders turn this down… like I said you are not like the other kids in the class.”
Musk responded a few days later suggesting only that Oprah Winfrey would make a good addition to Twitter’s board under his ownership. “Wisdom about humanity and knowing what is right are more important than so called ‘board governance’ skills, which mean pretty much nothing in my experience,” he wrote.
Musk invited Reid Hoffman to take part in financing the Twitter deal on April 27. At first, Hoffman politely declined, saying “It’s way beyond my resources. I presume you are not interested in venture $.”
Musk said VC money “is fine if you want.”
“There is plenty of financial support, but you’re a friend, so just letting you know you’d get priority,” he added.
Hoffman proceeded to ask what “the largest $ that would be ok?” Musk suggested $2 billion, and Hoffman said “Great. Probably doable — let me see.” Musk then connected Hoffman to Morgan Stanley.
The text log does not show why Hoffman eventually decided against putting up money for the deal, but he claimed earlier this month to be skeptical of it.
Silver Lake Partners’ Egon Durban
Musk first texted Egon Durban, a director at Silver Lake Capital and a Twitter board member and investor, on March 26, before his stake in the company was made public.
“This is Elon. Please call when you have a moment. It is regarding the Twitter board,” Musk texted.
The next day, Durban connected Musk via text with Agrawal, Taylor and Martha Lane Fox, another member of Twitter’s board.
“Elon – everyone is excited about prospect of you being involved and on board. Next step is for you to chat so we can move this forward quickly. Maybe we can get this done in the next few days,” Durban wrote.
On April 5, Agrawal announced that Musk was joining the board.
At some point, Durban and Musk may have had some kind of falling out. Their last text that appears on the log is from Musk on April 17, so after Musk offered to acquire Twitter.
“You’re calling Morgan Stanley to speak poorly of me…” Musk wrote. A reply from Durban does not appear in the log.
James Murdoch at the Tribeca Festival
Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival
On April 26, James Murdoch texted Musk about a connection that is not referenced elsewhere in the text log, saying “Thank you. I will link you up.”
Murdoch added, “Also, will call when some of the dust settles. Hope all is ok.”
Murdoch’s wife, Kathryn, texted in the same thread to ask only, “Will you bring Jack back?”
Musk replied, “Jack doesn’t want to come back. He is focused on Bitcoin.”
Elon Musk and David Sacks
Sacks and Musk texted several times casually about Twitter and exchanging links to posts on the platform. On April 26, Sacks asked Musk if he’d be interested in connecting with Justin Amash, a libertarian politician who asked Sacks for an introduction in order to be “helpful to Twitter.” Musk replied, “I don’t own Twitter yet.”
Two days later, Musk asked Sacks if he wanted to “invest in the take private?” Sacks replied “Yes but I don’t have a vehicle for it (Craft is a venture) so either I need to set up and SPV or just do it personally. If the latter, my amount would be mice-nuts in relative terms but I would be happy to participate to support the cause.”
“Up to you,” Musk said.
“I’m in personally, and will raise an SPV too if that works for you,” Sacks wrote.
“Sure,” Musk said.
Sacks has tried to fight being part of Twitter’s case against Musk, arguing he never committed to investing in the deal.
“Rick and Morty” was created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon.
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Roiland, co-creator of popular adult cartoon “Rick and Morty,” texted Musk on April 6, the day after Musk agreed to join Twitter’s board.
“I fucking love that you’re the majority owner of Twitter,” Roiland said.
He proceeded to suggest that Musk meet friends of his who had created a program to verify people’s identities, “As in, if people choose to use it, it could verify that they are a real person and not a troll farm.”
Musk corrected him two days later, saying “I just own 9% of Twitter, so don’t control the company.” He said he would “raise the identity issue with Parag (CEO).”
Are you a Twitter employee or someone else with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at [email protected], on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.