Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, is famously enigmatic.
On April 4, when he first disclosed that he had bought enough shares of Twitter to become the social media site’s largest shareholder, he didn’t have much to say and appeared on the surface to be working amicably with Twitter executives.
Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief executive, posted tweets supporting the move, calling Mr. Musk “a passionate believer and intense critic of the service, which is exactly what we need.”
But on Thursday, when disclosing that he wanted to purchase the company, Mr. Musk had a lot to say, sharing several critiques of the company and ideas for its future.
“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Mr. Musk said in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing announcing his offer.
He added, “Since making my investment, I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”
In the days leading up to Thursday’s announcement, Mr. Musk voiced concerns about the relevance of Twitter, its adherence to free speech principles and its financial model, which is based on earning money from advertisements.
After an account posted a list of the 10 most followed Twitter accounts, including former President Barack Obama and the pop stars Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, Mr. Musk over the weekend responded and wrote: “Most of these ‘top’ accounts tweet rarely and post very little content. Is Twitter dying?”
Separately that day, Mr. Musk posted about ideas for Twitter’s subscription service, writing: “Price should probably be ~$2/month, but paid 12 months up front.” He added that accounts would not get the blue check marks associated with verified people and organizations unless those users paid their dues.
Price should probably be ~$2/month, but paid 12 months up front & account doesn’t get checkmark for 60 days (watch for CC chargebacks) & suspended with no refund if used for scam/spam
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 10, 2022
After Mr. Musk bought a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter, he was uncharacteristically mum — at least initially — but experts suspected that he may have been keeping his intentions quiet.