Ryan Mac

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How Elon Musk Destroyed Twitter


The billionaire entrepreneur and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has become inextricable from a social media platform that until 2023 was known as Twitter. Started in the early 2000s as a playful microblogging platform, Twitter quickly became a vital nexus of global politics, culture, and media—where the retweet function could instantly catapult anyone or any idea to hundreds of millions of the screens around the world, unleashing raw viral emotion like nothing else before it. Known as a "digital town square," it struggled to make money.

Musk joined the platform in 2010 and became one of the site’s biggest users by 2022, touting over 80 million followers who regularly engage with his mix of provocative and absurd remarks. To Musk, Twitter—once known for its almost absolute commitment to free speech—had badly lost its way. He blamed it for the proliferation of what he called the “woke mind virus” and claimed that democracy itself depended on the future of the site. In January of 2022, Musk began secretly accumulating Twitter stock. By April he was its largest shareholder, and soon after, he made an unsolicited offer to purchase the company. Twitter’s board responded with a poison pill strategy to block the deal but reversed course, suing Musk to finally close the deal in October. The richest man on earth controlled one of the most powerful media platforms in the world—but at what price?

The story of the showdown between Musk and Twitter and his eventual takeover of the company is unlike anything in business or media that has come before. In vivid, cinematic detail reminiscent of the classic Barbarians at the Gate, investigative journalists Conger and Mac follow the inner workings of the company as Musk laid siege to it, first from the outside as one of its most vocal users and then finally from within as its contentious and mercurial leader. Musk has shared some of his side of the story, but Conger and Mac have uncovered the truth, using unparalleled sources from both within and around the company to provide a revelatory, three-dimensional look at what really happened when Musk showed up with a cadre of ruthless lawyers, VCs, and bankers.