In a surprise reversal, Twitter top dog Parag Agrawal tweeted Sunday night that gazillionaire and free speech advocate Elon Musk would not be joining Twitter’s board of directors after all. While at first glance this appears to signal that Musk will not be able to turn the social media giant away from its determination to silence voices that dissent from the far-Left’s agenda, it could turn out to be very good news for those who are concerned about the social media behemoths’ outsize influence over the public discourse in America today.
Agrawal announced: “Elon has decided not to join our board. I sent a brief note to the company, sharing with you all here.” In the appended note, Agrawal wrote: “Here’s what I can share about what happened,” suggesting immediately that what happened was far more fiery and dramatic than what he was letting on. “The Board and I had many discussions about Elon joining the board, and with Elon directly,” Agrawal continued. “We were excited to collaborate and clear about the risks. We also believed that having Elon as a fiduciary of the company where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders, was the best path forward. The board offered him a seat.” Clearly Agrawal and the other Twitter bosses thought that a seat on the board would constrain Musk: he would have to “act in the best interests of the company.” The Lilliputians would have had Gulliver effectively tied down. But no such luck.
Agrawal revealed that Musk was supposed to join the board on Saturday, but it didn’t happen: “We announced on Tuesday that Elon would be appointed to the Board continent on a background check and formal acceptance. Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning that he will no longer be joining the board. I believe this is for the best.” Of course he does: Agrawal is open about his contempt for the parameters of free society, having famously said in 2018 that Twitter should “focus less on thinking about free speech” and more on “how we recommend content … how we direct people’s attention.” Whereas Musk tweeted on March 26: “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?”
Agrawal promised that he would still listen to Musk anyway: “We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.” Then Agrawal added ominously: “There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged.” There’s your problem right there. “The decisions we make and how we execute is in our hands, no one else’s.” That is, not in Elon Musk’s. Agrawal told Twitter wonks: “Let’s tune out the noise, and stay focused on the work and what we’re building.”
That was all certainly a shot across the bow at Musk, but it could be one of Agrawal’s last notes of defiance. Journalist Jordan Schachtel observed: “Elon Musk not taking a board seat is bullish for free speech coming back to Twitter. The board seat was a proposed tactic by Twitter’s current execs & board to curb his influence (limiting his maximum shares to 14.9%). Musk can now pursue a hostile takeover if he so chooses. He acquired 9% of company shares from Feb to April. Will he get to 18% by June? Next SEC filing should be interesting to see! IMO this process is already happening. Shareholders don’t care about the woke stuff. And given Elon’s record of making shareholders rich, wouldn’t be surprised to see SJW panic in Twitter exec world right now.” What a wonderful thought. In a similar vein, the managing editor of New York Focus, Peter Sterne, tweeted: “Elon joining Twitter’s board was contingent on him agreeing not to buy more than 15% of Twitter. Now he’s not joining the board. So does that mean he can he [sic] buy as much of Twitter’s outstanding stock as he wants?” We can only hope.
Back on March 25, Musk tweeted a poll: “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” He added, “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.” Out of 2,035,924 votes, 70.4% voted no. This was before Musk’s acquisition of Twitter shares to make him the company’s largest shareholder was announced. Will there be more consequences of this poll? Once again, we can only hope.