Elon Musk recently purchased 9.2% of Twitter stock, according to a filing Monday, making him the largest individual shareholder in the company.
News of the purchase sent shares of Twitter
(TWTR) soaring 24% in premarket trading. Musk did not disclose what he paid for the shares, but his stake was worth $2.9 billion as of the close of trading Friday, and $3.6 billion after the spike early Monday.
Any time an investor buys 5% or more of a company’s shares, they must disclose the purchase in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although a stake of less than 10% in a company is considered “passive” in they eyes of Wall Street, it could signal an effort by Musk to take a more active role in how Twitter is run. That is one of the factors prompting other investors to buy shares and drive up the price early Monday.
“I think he intends to go active and force change at Twitter,” said Dan Ives, tech analyst as Wedbush Securities. “This is a shot across the bow at Twitter’s board and management team to start discussions.”
Musk has 80 million Twitter followers, far more than any CEO. Last month he said he was giving “serious thought” to creating a new social media platform. As he does with most of his announcements, he disclosed that potential move in a tweet.
That tweet and the subsequent stock purchase follow Musk’s latest criticism of Twitter, where he claimed the platform doesn’t allow for free speech.
“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk tweeted just before he disclosed the idea for a new platform. “What should be done?”