Opinion | Why Elon Musk Is Buying into Twitter

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Fourth Estate

Like other billionaires, Musk can’t resist the siren call of owning big media.

The logo for Twitter appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Elon Musk is taking a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter. | AP Photo/Richard Drew

Opinion by Jack Shafer

04/04/2022 05:34 PM EDT

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Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer.

Elon Musk has found something to keep himself occupied until his first crewed mission to Mars fulfills his prediction and lands on the Red Planet in 2029. He’s purchased a 9.2 percent share in Twitter for $2.9 billion — where he has 80.2 million followers — making him the social media company’s largest shareholder. Given his $299 billion fortune, all it would take is a few mouse clicks to place the entire company in his shopping cart and complete the transaction in short order. If he does so, in addition to being the electric car guy and the rocket guy, he’ll become the Twitter guy, too.

Now, why would the world’s richest person want to buy into Twitter? It’s not a wildly profitable company. It’s not even a top social-media outlet, like Facebook or TikTok. While the investment has goosed the company’s stock by 25 percent, providing Musk with a bigger bank account, money can’t be his main motivation. Instead, it seems that Musk has belatedly reached the altitude where many of his fellow oligarchs dwell, a place where owning big media conveys status upon them that is beyond money. Viewed from that angle, it’s not strange that Musk has invested in media, only strange that it took him so long.

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