Karissa Bell

Elon Musk’s texts with Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal detail the tumultuous negotiations on Twitter | Engadget

A slice of Elon Musk’s private messages have been made public as part of his ongoing lawsuit with Twitter. The posts, revealed Thursday, shed new light on Musk’s behind-the-scenes negotiations with Twitter management, as well as talks with former CEO Jack Dorsey, and how Musk’s talks with CEO Parag Agrawal deteriorated rapidly.

The posts include when Musk tells Agrawal he wants to acquire Twitter and make it private, rather than join the board. Agrawal confronts Musk about an April 9 wondering if “Twitter is dying”.

Agrawal writes to Musk:

You are free to tweet “is twitter dying?” or anything else on Twitter – but it’s my responsibility to tell you that this doesn’t help me improve Twitter in today’s environment. Next time we speak I would like you to provide yourselves [sic] perspective on the level of internal distraction right now and how it [sic] affect our ability to work. I hope the AMA helps people get to know you, understand why you believe in Twitter, and trust you – and I’d like the company to get to a place where we’re more resilient and don’t get distracted , but we are not there right now.

Musk replied less than a minute later. “What have you been doing this week?” I do not join the council. It’s a waste of time. Will make an offer to make Twitter private.

Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor asked Musk a few minutes later to speak. “Fixing Twitter by chatting with Parag won’t work,” Musk told Taylor. “Drastic action is needed. It’s hard to do as a public company because purging fake users will make the numbers look terrible, so restructuring has to be done as a private company. This is also Jack’s opinion.

The posts also give some insight into Dorsey and Musk’s relationship. Dorsey said “Elon is the one-stop solution I trust,” but hasn’t commented publicly since Musk filed a lawsuit in an attempt to reverse the acquisition.

But in the recently posted posts, it’s clear that Dorsey has wanted Musk to take an active role on Twitter for some time. Dorsey tells Musk he wanted him to join Twitter’s board long before Musk acquired a significant stake in the company.

“At the time we brought in the activist, I did my best to get you on our board and our board said no. It was around then that I decided I had to work my way out, as hard as it was for me,” Dorsey says. “I think the main reason is that the board is just very risk averse and saw your addition as more risk which I thought was completely stupid and backwards but I only had one vote, and 3% of the company, and no dual-class shares. Installation difficult. We can discuss further.

Dorsey seemed to refer to the activist investor who tempted Dorsey in early 2020.

Notably, this conversation took place in late March, after Musk had a multi-billion dollar stake in Twitter, but before his stake was made. He and Dorsey also discussed the Twitter co-founder’s belief that Twitter “can’t be a business.”

Dorsey writes to Musk:

I believe it needs to be an open source protocol, funded by some kind of foundation that doesn’t own the protocol, only advances it. Kind of like what Signal did. It cannot have an advertising model. Otherwise, you have a surface that governments and advertisers will try to influence and control. If he has a centralized entity behind him, he will be attacked. It’s not a complicated job, just doing it right will make it stand up to what happened to Twitter.

Musk responds that the idea is “super interesting” and that “it’s worth both trying to move Twitter in a better direction and doing something new that’s decentralized.”

The following month, Dorsey also tried to mediate between Musk and Agrawal, at one point arranging a call between the three of them. “You and I are in perfect agreement,” Musk told Dorsey. “Parag moves way too slowly and tries to please people who won’t be happy no matter what he does.”

“At least it’s become clear that you can’t work together,” Dorsey replies later. “It was clarifying.”

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