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How Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal Crashed the Twitter Deal, in Texts

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Elon Musk’s explanation for the Twitter against Musk suit may have been moved to next weekbut the public got some more inside dirt about his plans for Twitter, thanks to the release of two slideshow presentations and a bunch of Musk lyrics.

The lyrics have Musk and a variety of contacts — including former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, entrepreneur Jason Calacanis and podcaster Joe Rogan — talking about everything from the blockchain to putting Oprah on Twitter’s board. (That part might be a joke, but with Musk, it’s hard to tell.) But above all, they chronicle the slow implosion of the deal.

Twitter should never have been a business.

The texts are easy to read, and that is possible view them here if you are so inclined. They’re usually divided into two sections: a dizzying frenzy around Musk taking over Twitter and a lengthy venting session as the takeover moved south.

The first major part starts about a month before Musk’s $44 billion offer to buy Twitter. In March 2022, Jack Dorsey will contact: one of Musk’s tweets, part of a thread complaining about a lack of free speech on Twitter. “A new platform is needed. It can’t be a business. That’s why I left,” Dorsey says. He’s trying to sell Musk on a new decentralized communications protocol, saying Twitter “should never have been a business.” Musk more or less agrees, but with one caveat: “I think it’s worth taking Twitter in a better direction as well as doing something new.”

Dorsey expresses doubts about that, but when Musk buys a substantial stake in Twitter, Dorsey is hugely on board. “I’ve wanted it for a long time. I got very emotional when I heard it was finally possible,” he texted after an initial announcement that Musk was being hired. He is equally excited about Musk meeting current CEO Parag Agrawal: “Parag is an incredible engineer.”

Stringed through several SMS subplots (Kimbal Musk For real wants to talk to Elon about Web3), one theme stands out: When Twitter’s longtime CEO insisted on bringing Twitter and Musk together, Musk’s patience with his new one broke almost immediately. Musk and Dorsey are on the same high-pitched wavelength. Meanwhile, Agrawal comes across as a current director and former engineer at a very large company that is about to take a big risk.

“Twitter CEO is my dream job.”

This is not an immediate problem. “I just want Twitter to be maximum awesome,” Musk said in an early post-investment conversation, touting his expertise in “heavy software.” Agrawal playfully tries to establish a bit of coder-to-coder bonding: “I was CTO and has been in our codebase for a long time… treat me like an engineer instead of a CEO and let’s see where we end up.”

But two days later, Agrawal makes a crucial mistake: he asks Musk to stop tweeting. “You are free to tweet ‘is Twitter dying?’ or anything else about Twitter – but it’s my responsibility to tell you that it doesn’t help me make Twitter better in the current context,” Agrawal writes on April 9. “I would like the company to come to a place where we’re more resilient and not distracted, but we’re not here now.” Two minutes later, Musk declares joining the board “a waste of time” and says he will offer to keep Twitter private. (In the Web3 B plot, he simultaneously texts Kimbal about how to start a paid blockchain social network.)

“Fixing Twitter by chatting with Parag won’t work,” he briefly told Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor. “Drastic measures are needed.”

(Meanwhile, in a continuous C-plot that is by far the most entertaining part of these text messages, Jason Calacanis offers Musk a constant stream of thirsty suggestions, including increasing his bid price, moving Twitter’s headquarters to the Gigafactory in Texas, and bringing YouTube creator to Twitter. MrBeast to win over Zoomers and Millennials. Calacanis is also a ride-or-die for Musk, jumping on a grenade for him and saying, among other things, “You have my sword” and “Twitter CEO is my dream job.”)

“Parag just goes way too slow and tries to please people who won’t be happy no matter what he does.”

Dorsey fully agrees with the acquisition: “I will not let this fail and will do whatever it takes. It’s too important to humanity,” he promises. (Back in the B-plot, Musk texts Boring Company CEO Steve Davis about “a blockchain-based version of Twitter” where users pay in Dogecoin, happily concluding that “blockchain Twitter is not possible.”) And Dorsey tries to smooth things over with Musk and Agrawal: “He’s really great at getting things done when he’s given a specific direction,” Dorsey tells him.

Musk is not involved in this. “Parag just goes way too slow and tries to please people who won’t be happy no matter what he does,” he says. Dorsey diplomatically sees the glass as half full, saying that “at least it’s become clear that you can’t work together.” But it’s the last message we get from him — as Musk texts Rupert Murdoch heirs Kathryn and James to say he’s too busy with his crypto startup to rejoin Twitter.

And this is all happening while Musk is still largely thrilled about buying Twitter. (This section ends perfectly with venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson suggesting that Musk hire his son to perform surgeries—again, a nutritional frenzy.) Spring in May, and he complains to banker Michael Grimes that Twitter has “asked no good questions and no good comments.” during a meeting, immediately before asking to delay the deal in the case of the Third World War and assume that less than half of Twitter users are real.

There was a lot of apparent public friction between Musk and Agrawal, and Dorsey’s support for the acquisition was well known. But based on the string of text messages here, it’s striking how quickly Agrawal is moving south and how little Dorsey manages to sell Musk that this is a good idea — something Musk begins to question almost as soon as he gets his bargain. close .


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