Elon Musk rarely spends long out of the headlines – or much time away from social media. His musings on Twitter have caused significant market shifts and controversies in the past, with some accusing him of deliberately manipulating the value of Bitcoin and other markets.
But the American entrepreneur recently became even more invested in the platform when he bought a 9.2% share, worth close to $3 billion, becoming the biggest individual shareholder in the process.
Now one of the richest and most famous people in the world, below we look at where Musk has come from, before analysing the finer details and potential consequences of his latest move.
Who is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk is a South African-born entrepreneur who moved to the United States in the late 1980s to attend university.
After early success in building and selling a company named Zip2, Musk co-founded and later sold the electronic payment provider PayPal, before creating SpaceX to pursue his interest in space exploration. Not long later he became one of the major funders – and eventually chief executive officer – of electric car manufacturer Tesla.
Musk’s passion for innovation has allowed him to cast his influence over several industries and spheres of life, from tech to politics and entertainment. If you’ve ever looked into trading CFDs for example, you’ll likely be familiar with his power and ambitions.
Musk’s latest business venture
Like another famous American male of recent times, Musk has built his public profile on the microblogging platform Twitter. He has often talked to his more than 80 million followers of shaking up the social media industry, and earlier this month caused Twitter shares to surge by as much as 26%, after regulatory filings revealed his 9.2% share purchase.
Just a few days earlier, Musk had polled his followers to ask whether they felt the company adheres to the principles of free speech. Over 70% answered no, to which Musk suggested a new platform was needed in its place – and that he was thinking about starting his own.
His plans for Twitter remain unclear, however, after it was revealed by Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal days later that Musk had decided not to join the company’s board. Some predict this could indicate Musk’s plans to buy more shares in the future, as limiting himself to owning 14.9% had been a condition of joining the board.
And by owning more of Twitter, Musk would likely find it easier to make the kind of changes he wants to see.
The grey areas of the transaction
There is another element of uncertainty to the deal. Musk may have been overly hasty by failing to notify the US Securities and Exchange Commission first, which is a legal requirement for a purchase of this size.
Musk’s oversight helped keep Twitter stock prices low while he proceeded to buy them, allowing him to make some $156 million. It remains to be seen what consequences arise from the contravention, with legal action and a six-figure fine highly likely.