NPR’s A Martinez talks to Dan Ives, tech analyst with Wedbush Securities, about Elon Musk’s actions with Twitter and what it means for the company, the business of social media and investments.
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
It has been a wild few days for Twitter and Elon Musk. The unpredictable mega-billionaire disclosed he owns 9% of the social media giant. He got a seat on the Twitter board. He even spun up a tweetstorm of suggestions, such as Twitter should convert its San Francisco headquarters into homes for the unhoused. Then, he deleted some of his ideas and turned down membership on the board.
Dan Ives is here to try and make some sense of this Silicon Valley drama. He’s a tech analyst with Wedbush Securities. Dan, if you could, for just a minute, jump into Elon Musk’s head and tell us what he’s trying to do here.
DAN IVES: Yeah. Look, I think Elon Musk was really trying to shake up Twitter in terms of the social media platform – became its biggest shareholder, knew the board would have to talk to him. The board invited him on. And ultimately, he was not going to put a muzzle on and stay quiet. And now this goes from a Cinderella story, with him on the board helping Twitter, to what I’d say is more of a “Game Of Thrones” – much more hostile. And this is going to be a get-out-the-popcorn moment.
MARTINEZ: But it’s hard for me to believe, Dan, that he didn’t know that he would get muzzled if his stake in Twitter was increased. I mean, how does he not know that? It seems like it dawned on him and then he decided, nah, I don’t want to do this.
IVES: Yeah. And, look, that’s exactly how Musk ultimately operates. And we’ve seen it, you know, covering him for decades. And I do think Twitter’s board thought this was going to be, you know, him coming onto the board, helping, cheese and crackers, voting on different board – but as everyone know, that – that’s not Musk. And this really, ultimately, I think, hit a crescendo Saturday in terms of his tweetstorm. And now, for Twitter and the board, it’s the worst nightmare because when you have someone like Musk as a foe, who’s going to become more active, you know, and ultimately could, from a hostile perspective, really try to change the board – which, ultimately, could lead to some sort of, you know, buyout of Twitter. So this is really a soap opera that continues to play out.
MARTINEZ: So what kind of an opportunity do you think Musk sees in Twitter? Is it financial or is it more personal or a little of both?
IVES: I think it’s more personal. I mean, financial is usually not his M.O. But if you look at Twitter, Twitter’s been an underperforming social media platform. Dorsey, the CEO, has moved to the background. Investors were up in arms. So Musk knew there was an opportunity to shake things up, which is why it was now or never. He hit – became No. 1 shareholder. And now, I think, in terms of Twitter’s board, as well as their execs, spotlight’s on them. Musk is not going to go away. And I think now this really starts to become a situation that – no one ever thought in a million years that Elon Musk would become a corporate raider of Twitter.
MARTINEZ: So for investors, then, is he becoming kind of like a knight in shining armor for the stockholder? I mean, is that where this is going?
IVES: In a Bizarro World, he’s become the knight in shining armor for Twitter shareholders. And for a company that’s underperformed, you cannot argue the success he’s had with SpaceX, Tesla and others. So whatever he touches turns to gold. Twitter now is in a situation, strategically, that the louder Musk gets – and if they continue to underperform, they’re going to be forced into what I almost call an activist volcano situation. And that’s why the stock’s moved up so much since Musk came in. Him on the board would have been, ultimately, a storybook ending. It’s not going to end up like that. And that’s why, you know, this is going to be more of a street fight between Musk and Twitter.
MARTINEZ: And a bit of a roller coaster ride, as well. Dan Ives is a tech analyst with Wedbush Securities. Dan, thanks a lot.
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