On October 27, 2022, the world’s richest man bought the de facto global town square. Elon Musk‘s purchase of Twitter had been brewing since April when the South African-born tech magnate first offered (or threatened?) to take over the struggling social network to the tune of $44 billion.
He later tried to reneg on the deal, or at least made a big public show of trying to back out of it during the summer of 2022, claiming that Twitter had falsely represented the percentage of bot accounts on the platform. Company executives filed suit to force Musk to agree to the share price in his original offer — despite significant stock price losses due largely to Musk’s own disparagement of the site.
Forced to go through with the deal despite admittedly “overpaying for Twitter right now,” Musk and his set of investor backers took the company private and began an uncertain new era for the heretofore arguably closest thing to a public town square in all of history, with the Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur at the helm. A self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” the billionaire immediately began pronouncing ideas wildly unpopular with its power user base of journalists, academics, and public professionals of all stripes, including:
- Re-platforming banned right-wing purveyors of hate speech including Donald Trump, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, apparently antisemitic pop star Kanye West, and a rogue’s gallery of antisemitic “influencers” and violent fanfic enthusiasts
- Destroying the essential nature of the account “blue check” verification process, by allowing anyone to purchase a Blue Check for $8/month without providing any proof of identity whatsoever
- Offering a video upload service whose primary target market would be porn producers
Who actually owns Twitter now?
Amidst the chaos of Musk’s first weeks of ownership, many inside and outside of Twitter have speculated on the potential ulterior motives of the tech oligarch’s purchase. Theories range from intentional sabotage to gross incompetence — or potentially some mixture of the two. There is widespread disparagement of the idea that a billionaire can simply step in and upend what passed for a fledgling tool of democratic influence, and a bulwark against the march of right-wing authoritarianism around the world.
But who actually owns Twitter, outside of Musk himself? Perhaps the laundry list of investors can now or in the future shed some light on probable strategies behind the massive shakeup at one of the world’s most popular tools for the media-industrial class. Given the company’s privatization, it is now far less transparent about its financials — and it will be difficult to know at any moment in time if given investors have come in or out, or increased or decreased their holdings via their relationships with Musk or intermediaries.
As it stands though, this is the list of Twitter backers I have so far been able to find. Do you know of others I’ve missed, or changes to relative holdings? Please do give me a shout over — where else — on Twitter (while it stands — else on Mastodon) and let me know!
Twitter owners list
- The number one primary owner is Elon Musk himself, who already owned 9.6% in shares of the company before taking it over. During the sale he put in $27 billion in cash from his own fortune, liquidated by selling shares of his Tesla stock
- Original co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey owned 2.4% in shares and kept them, for about a $1B stake
- Larry Ellison of Oracle — $1B
- Qatar Holding, part of the Qatar sovereign wealth fund (Qatar Investment Authority)
- Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia — transferred 35 million shares to Musk (about $1.9B according to Dave Troy)
- Binance cryptocurrency exchange — $500M
- $13B in bank loans from:
- Morgan Stanley — $3.5B
- Bank of America
- Japanese banks
- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
- French banks
- Societe Generale
- BNP Paribas