Elon Musk

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:

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
    • Barclays
    • Japanese banks
      • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
      • Mizuho
    • French banks
      • Societe Generale
      • BNP Paribas
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One of two major parties in our American first-past-the-post voting system of dual-party reality, the Republican Party, has evolved (or devolved…) into a full-throated authoritarian movement seeking to overthrow our democracy, The Constitution, and the rule of law in order to establish a fascist regime in the United States. It’s been a not-so-secret fever dream on the right for decades and even centuries — and the old guard reflexively senses their time is coming to an end.

The demographic changes underway in America are inexorable — by the 2024 election cycle 8 million new young voters who have turned 18 since the 2022 mid-terms, and 5 million seniors aged 65 and up will have died. The first group will vote overwhelmingly Democratic, while the second group represents the ever-dwindling base of the Republican Party. Although historically older voters have participated at much higher rates than the youth voting percentage, the rate of increase for the 18-24 group is much higher.

Faced with these realities and the census projection of a majority minority population in the United States by the year 2045, the Republican right-wing is struggling to keep piecing together a voting base that can achieve victories in electoral politics. The GOP is now 3 cults in a trenchcoat, having been hollowed out and twisted to the point of trying desperately to hold increasingly extreme factions together for another election cycle in which they can try to capture power forever through gerrymandering and other anti-democratic election engineering — or at least long enough to erase the evidence of their criminal behavior during the Trump years culminating in a coup attempt on January 6, 2021.

The 3 Republican cults are as follows:

  1. The Wealth Cult — led by Charles Koch and a collection of dark money groups including Leonard Leo’s Federalist Society and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
  2. The Christian Nationalist Cult — led by Mike Pence, Mike Flynn, and others under the umbrella of the Council for National Policy (CNP)
  3. The White Nationalist Cult — led by Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, with a parallel intertwined branch led by Peter Thiel and the Dark Enlightenment neo-Reactionaries of Silicon Valley. This group includes dominant private militia groups involved in the January 6 insurrection including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

The Wealth Cult

Led by Charles Koch et al, the mostly aging, Boomer crowd who controls much of the US government either directly or indirectly as a donor or operative is starting to panic for one reason or another: the fear of death looming, existential worries about thwarted or unmet ambition, economic turn of the wheel starting to leave their fortunes in decline (with inflation as a common boogie man since the Wall Street Putsch of the 1930s). Much of this crowd inherited the free market ideological zeal of the Austrian School of economics from their fathers along with their trust fund fortunes that some have squandered (Trump), tread water with (Coors, Scaife), or grown (Koch, DeVos).

Continue reading The GOP is 3 Cults in a Trenchcoat
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Hate speech is a way of dominating & monopolizing the conversation:

  • It removes the possibility of polite, congenial dialogue.
  • No productive discussion can happen until it is removed, b/c one party is only pretending to be there for dialog but is only there for broadcasting.

Hate speech is a weapon being used to shut down political discourse — under the guise of promoting it.

It’s a kind of false flag operation — a strategy of war disguising itself as “legitimate political discourse.”
Putin and the American right-wing are using the exact same tactics — and this is no accident. It’s not a coincidence Elonely Muskrat is carrying water for Russian dictators and oligarchs — the right-wing as an ideological movement is now global.

It’s also no accident this whole Twitter takeover drama is happening just before the mid-terms. The right-wing needs to inject some juice into the splintering base, some of whom are wavering as the actual (intentionally) obscured vision of the GOP leaks out (i.e. destroy government altogether).

Continue reading GOTV: Elonely Muskrat hate speech edition
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Longtermism is an extreme ideology that has gained traction in Silicon Valley and the technosphere: both Elon Musk and Peter Thiel are acolytes. In this worldview, the far future of humanity will have colonized the stars and number in the trillions — therefore making all the puny little humans alive today essentially worthless and expendable in their eyes (except themselves, of course). As long as climate change doesn’t kill *absolutely all* 7 billion of us, we’ll manage to soldier on — therefore we should focus on AI instead, they say.

Their breezy tossing aside of morality on anything with effects less than 100 years is also chilling. By use of the frame-shifting device of the far far future, longtermism is able to render basically anything a rounding error of no importance, from the Holocaust to the dropping of atomic bombs to the famines of Stalin and Mao. That is just not going to sit well with most people who have empathy — which is most people.

Related terms:

  • existential risk
  • effective altruism
  • non-linear climate change
  • “vast and glorious potential”
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The Lone Wolf myth is pervasive in Western culture — the idea that what really moves the needle and has the power to make change is a single solitary force: an exceptional, rugged individual who can brute force his (and it’s usually a he) way through all opposition and Get Things Done.

It’s the seductive idea of the Hero who will swoop in to save the day (The Lone Ranger, Superman); the genius whose innovations disrupt and revolutionize industries (Steve Jobs, Elon Musk); or the strongman who will overpower an entire nation into submission (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, etc etc).

It’s intertwingled with other strongly held cultural ideologies:

  • Superior physical strength is the best leadership trait; violence is the most expedient way of solving problems
  • Relatedly: Strict Father Morality — the Judeo-Christian worldview that the father is the “mini-God” of every family and must be obeyed absolutely
  • Patriarchy: men are leaders, and women exist to support men in their leadership duties; masculine qualities (or perceived masculine qualities) like physical strength, superior rationality, immediate action, and bulldozing the opposition are better than feminine qualities (or perceived feminine qualities) like coordination, consensus, listening, empathy, patience, inspiration, respect, negotiation, storytelling
  • Relatedly: great man theory of history
  • Human supremacy in general: “some are more equal than others” and those people deserve all the cultural (and literal) capital
  • Efficiency is the highest value — because one person making a decision is faster than having to come to consensus
  • Entitlement: the expectation that our lives will be pleasant and any challenges will be minor, of limited duration, and solved somehow without much effort
  • Arrogance, egotism, and narcissism: “I alone can do it”
  • Magical Thinking and control: believing either that we are the Hero or that the Hero will swoop in to save us is a way of relieving the psychological discomfort of unpredictability and uncertainty in the world. We harbor a secret belief of being superior to any crisis as a way of convincing ourselves that nothing bad will happen to us
  • Being fooled by appearances: our tendency towards gullibility, especially towards people in positions of authority — who are often enacting a self-serving agenda underneath the public-facing PR version of the story

References:

  • Rebecca Solnit — “A Hero is a Disaster” (Whose Story is This?)
  • Malcolm Gladwell — Outliers
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