Elon Musk, the eccentric billionaire behind Tesla and SpaceX, has snapped up a 9.2 per cent in Twitter – which has sent its shares flying.
The tech entrepreneur is reportedly now the largest shareholder in the social media platform, considered one of the world’s most popular.
Twitter shares have surged around 26 per cent in pre-market trading, after the regulatory filing revealing Musk as a stakeholder was published.
Based on Friday’s market close, the stake is worth some $2.89bn (£2.2bn), though just a fraction of Musk’s net worth of $233bn (£178bn).
Musk has carved out a name for himself for being particularly controversial on the platform. The billionaire pitched to his 80.2m followers just weeks ago, whether a “new platform” is needed and pointed towards the importance of his poll, for a reason unbeknownst to followers.
The Tesla boss wrote: “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?
“The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
In late January, Musk also expressed annoyance towards Twitter’s new feature, which allows users to use an NFT as their profile picture.
“Twitter is spending engineering resources on this… While crypto scammers are throwing a spambot block party in every thread,” he tweeted in response to his initial tweet.
The steps towards crypto products signals Twitter being under pressure to haul in newer, more sparkly products as its share price growth lags behind that of its peers. The platform’s share price has dwindled more than a third over the past year, according to Simply Wall Street.
While Musk’s stake in Twitter is classed as “passive”, as per the regulatory filing, it is being viewed as a potential first step in a bigger move by the billionaire. The hefty stake has left onlookers wondering what the future will look like for the blue bird.
Technology and media analyst at PP Foresight, Paolo Pescatore told City A.M.: “While this feels out of the blue, Musk is further diversifying his empire. It does raise into question recent comments and whether the move is seen as a means to influence the company and future strategic approach. It is apparent that the stake raises more questions.
“Regardless, it is a strong statement of belief in Twitter and further moves in building his stake or involvement cannot be ruled out.”
It follows Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey stepping down late last year, paving the way for Parag Agrawal, the platform’s chief technology officer to take over. The platform being in relatively new hands has also weighed on analysts’ forecasts of changing tides at Twitter.