Elon Musk decides not to join Twitter board

Elon Musk

Elon Musk has decided not to join the Twitter board, the chief executive of the micro-blogging site said.

Musk, who became Twitter’s biggest shareholder last week with a 9.2 per cent stake, had been expected to be appointed to the board on Saturday.

However, Parag Agrawal said in tweet last night that “Elon shared that same morning that he will no longer be joining the board”.

“I believe this is for the best,”Agrawal said. “We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.

“There will be distractions ahead but our goals and priorities remain unchanged. The decisions we make and how we execute is in our hands, no one else’s. Let’s tune out the noise, and stay focused on the work and what we’re building.”

Musk, a prolific tweeter with 81.2 million followers, responded on Twitter with an emoticon of a face with hand over its mouth. The tweet has since been deleted.

His appointment to the board would have limited any attempt to increase his stake in Twitter. Musk had agreed not to increase his holding to more than 14.9 per cent for the duration of his term on the board, which would have run to 2024.

When the news emerged of his appointment, Musk said: “Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!”

The billionaire chief executive of the electric carmaker Tesla had spent much of the weekend sharing suggestions — many of them apparently jokes — about how to improve Twitter.

In one post, he shared a poll with his followers asking if Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco should be converted to a homeless shelter “since no one shows up anyway”. He asked if Twitter is “dying” due to many of its most-followed accounts, including those belonging to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, not tweeting frequently.

Musk also proposed a shake-up of Twitter’s premium subscription service, suggesting an advertising ban and cutting its price. He suggested that there should be no ads on Twitter Blue, because the “power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive”.

In a series of posts , Musk said that users of Twitter Blue should pay less than $2.99 a month and should get an authentication checkmark. “Price should probably be ~$2/month, but paid 12 months up front & account doesn’t get checkmark for 60 days (watch for credit card chargebacks) & suspended with no refund if used for scam/spam,” he said.

Twitter Blue, which launched in June, offers “exclusive access to premium features” on a subscription basis and is available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Since emerging as Twitter’s biggest shareholder, Musk has been asking his followers about changes, including whether users should be able to edit tweets once they are posted.

His investment has led to speculation about his motivation, including whether it is to further free speech. He has been critical of the way users are moderated by Twitter, which suspended Donald Trump.

Scaling back content moderation, however, could prove unpopular with the advertisers upon which Twitter depends for most of its revenue. Twitter’s ad revenue was $4.5 billion last year.

Musk has also taken aim at spam accounts promoting cryptocurrency and has previously said they were the “single most annoying problem”.

Shares in Twitter finished almost 18 per cent higher last week. The shares were trading down $1.80 a share, or 1.8 per cent, in pre-market trading at $46.32.