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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has become the largest individual shareholder of Twitter.
The iconic tech mogul purchased a 9% stake in Twitter, Inc. to become the company’s largest shareholder after previously raising questions about the company’s adherence and dedication to the principle of free speech.
Musk purchased 73.5 million shares valued at just under $3 billion, the Associated Press reported.
Musk’s ultimate aim with his newly obtained influence in the company is unclear, but in recent days he acknowledged that he was “giving serious thought” to building his own social media platform.
A regulatory report released after Musk’s purchase of the shares indicated that the billionaire’s investment is long-term and that he was looking to minimize his buying and shelling of shares.
In a note to investors, Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities said that he expects Musk’s considerable — albeit passive — stake in the company to be the first step in Musk acquiring more of the company so that he can exert his influence over it.
He said, “We would expect this passive stake as just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake and a potential more aggressive ownership role of Twitter.”
Aside from his purported dedication to free speech as a concept, Musk’s interest in Twitter could also be inspired by U.S. securities regulators restricting his ability to freely post his thoughts on Twitter.
In early March, Musk asked a federal judge to nullify a subpoena from SEC regulators and throw out a 2018 agreement that required Musk to have a third party prescreen his Tweets before posting them.
The Associated Press reported that Musk’s legal team is arguing that the SEC’s subpoena has “no basis in law” and that the SEC has used the court agreement “to trample on Mr. Musk’s First Amendment rights and to impose prior restraints on his speech.”
The SEC responded in a court motion arguing that it has the legal authority to subpoena Tesla and its leadership over Musk’s tweets.
Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter was celebrated among conservative figures online who have been highly critical of Twitter’s manipulative enforcement of its rules regarding speech.
Twitter’s stock surged by 20% before the market opened on Monday as news of Musk’s acquisition broke.
Musk’s venture into social media comes as Truth Social, a social media outlet created and pushed by former President Donald Trump, saw the exodus of its joint chiefs of technology and product development, per CNBC.