A trove of text messages released as part of the legal fight over Elon Musk’s effort to terminate his acquisition of Twitter has revealed frantic efforts to put the $44bn deal together with help from a cast of high-profile Silicon Valley backers.
Hundreds of messages between Musk and his associates from early 2022 showed the billionaire entrepreneur had engaged with Twitter’s management and board, his advisers at Morgan Stanley, potential investors such as FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried and random supporters of his bid, including podcast host Joe Rogan.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s former chief executive, told Musk that he had previously tried to get him on to the company’s board in 2020, but was refused, the texts revealed.
The filings showed that when Musk announced plans to take the company private in April, several high-profile names emerged offering to support his bid.
In one exchange, top Morgan Stanley banker Michael Grimes told Musk that Bankman-Fried, the billionaire chief executive of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was willing to invest as much as $5bn in the deal.
Grimes said Bankman-Fried would work to integrate blockchain technology for Twitter. “He could shake hands on 5 if you like him and I think you will,” Grimes said in one of the several text messages he sent Musk.
The billionaire dismissed the idea and questioned Bankman-Fried’s finances, asking: “Does Sam actually have $3bn liquid?”
Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of Germany’s Axel Springer media group, also offered to run Twitter for Musk if he bought it to “establish a true platform of free speech”, writing a detailed proposal on how this might work.
Oracle founder Larry Ellison said he was “in for $2bn”, while Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder and partner at Greylock, said he could put up the same amount. Ellison eventually contributed $1bn to the bid.
Musk and Grimes also lamented that Orlando Bravo, the software private equity tycoon, had passed on joining the takeover.
The documents have been made public as Musk and Twitter prepare to go to court next month. Musk announced in July that he planned to pull out of the deal, arguing Twitter had broken the merger agreement by misleading him and regulators about the number of fake accounts on the platform.
Twitter denied the claims and announced a countersuit in an attempt to force Musk to close the deal.
Thursday’s filings showed Musk first communicating with Twitter’s leadership about joining the board in early April, after a conversation with Dorsey in which the former Twitter chief complained that the platform “can’t be a company” and should instead be “owned by a foundation”.
Dorsey said he had previously tried to get Musk on the board but they refused because it was “risk averse”. Musk, who has a longstanding friendship with Dorsey replied: “I’d like to help if I’m able to.”
Dorsey later wrote to Musk describing the Twitter board of directors as “terrible”.
The messages also revealed a breakdown in relations between Musk and Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal shortly after the Tesla boss agreed to join the social media company’s board. In one message, Agrawal reprimands the billionaire for writing “Is Twitter dying?” on the platform, arguing that it was distracting staff.
“What did you get done this week?” Musk wrote in the tense exchange. “I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of time. Will make an offer to take Twitter private.”
The messages also contained appearances from podcaster Rogan, who asked Musk if he would “liberate Twitter from the censorship happy mob?” and Jason Calacanis, an angel investor, who sought to drum up funding for Musk’s bid and put himself forward to help run the company if it was taken private, saying: “Twitter CEO is my dream job.”
The data dump comes as Twitter accused Musk of being uncooperative in providing his communications, including messages on the Signal platform.
Twitter’s lawyers have used messages received from other parties to infer that Musk has not been forthcoming with court orders and have asked a Delaware judge to impose sanctions on the billionaire for what they describe as discovery misconduct.