A few days before he publicly announced his investment On Twitter, Elon Musk texted Jack Dorsey. The former Twitter CEO suggested he no longer believed in the company he founded, according to new court filings in the legal battle between Musk and Twitter.
Musk began building a large stake in Twitter in January. In a March 26 text, Dorsey told Musk, “a new platform is needed. It cannot be a company. That’s why I left.”
Musk, an avid Twitter user who seemed friendly with Dorsey, responded by asking what the platform should look like. Dorsey explained his view that it should be an “open source protocol” and not rely on an “advertising model” as Twitter currently does. Dorsey added that Twitter “should never have been a company,” saying, “That was the original sin.”
Musk expressed interest in pursuing the idea. In a text later that day, he said, “I think it’s worth trying to move Twitter in a better direction and do something new that’s decentralized.”
The private exchanges between Dorsey and Musk are among text messages released in court filings this week, offering new insight into the Tesla CEO’s deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion and his subsequent attempt to back out of the deal. The messages also provide a unique window into Silicon Valley dealmaking, as a rotating cast of billionaires and industry executives tap into Musk’s text messages to discuss Twitter and, in some cases, casually offer him financial backing for the deal.
In the days following his private chat with Dorsey, Musk met with Twitter’s management and leadership. On April 5, Musk agreed to join the company’s board, a move Dorsey publicly and privately defended. In a text exchange with Musk later that day, Dorsey expressed confidence in Parag Agrawal, his successor as CEO of Twitter. Agrawal also expressed excitement in private texts about Musk joining the board.
But the relationship between Musk and the Twitter CEO quickly soured.
On April 9, Musk tweeted a question: “Is Twitter dying?” Agrawal followed up that day with a text to inform Musk that such comments would make life difficult for the CEO.
“You’re free to ask ‘Is Twitter dying?’ or anything else about Twitter,” Agrawal said in the text to Musk, “but it’s my responsibility to tell you that it’s not helping me improve Twitter in the current context. Next time we talk, I’d like you to give [your] An insight into the level of internal distraction right now and how [it’s] damaging our ability to do the job… I’d like to get to a place where we’re a more resilient company and we’re not distracted, but we’re not at the moment”.
Musk vaguely replied, “What have you been up to this week?” In two follow-up texts, he canceled the agreement to join the board, saying: “I will not join the board. This is a waste of time.’ He added: “He’s going to bid to take Twitter private.”
The same day, in an exchange with Twitter chairman Bret Taylor, Musk said, “Fixing Twitter by chatting with Parag won’t work,” Musk said. He added in a follow-up text: “Drastic action is needed.”
Musk and Twitter announced an acquisition agreement on April 25. More than two months later, Musk said he wanted out of the deal, citing concerns about the number of bots and spam accounts on the platform. Twitter sued Musk to enforce the deal.
The two sides will go to trial next month because of the agreement.