Elon Musk’s bid to acquire Twitter could have an unwanted side effect for the billionaire: adding another big business to his busy schedule.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has offered to buy all the Twitter shares he doesn’t already own — 90.8% of the company — in a deal worth around $43 billion, according to a regulatory filing released Thursday. The deal would add another of the world’s biggest companies to Musk’s ownership portfolio: Tesla and SpaceX are already a trillion-dollar company and a multi-billion-dollar company, respectively.
Musk also owns two small start-ups, Neuralink and The Boring Company.
Even if Musk successfully buys Twitter and refuses to name himself CEO, chances are he wants to influence the day-to-day operations of the company, which could lead to a serious time crunch for the richest person in the world. And while running three companies simultaneously isn’t unheard of — Musk, who is CEO of Neuralink, already does — running three of the world’s largest companies simultaneously is almost unprecedented.
Here’s good news for Musk: it’s already been done. The bad news is that the executive most recently known to have attempted the feat was none other than Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan and Renault, and ex-president of AvtoVaz and Mitsubishi.
Ghosn actually held senior positions at all four companies for some time and was leading three in 2018 when he was arrested in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct. Ghosn sadly fled to Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan, where he now resides as an internationally wanted fugitive.
In 2014, Ghosn told LinkedIn vice president and editor Daniel Roth in an interview that the key to his ability to run so many companies at once was avoiding multitasking. At the time, he said, his schedule was arranged more than a year in advance – and whatever country he was in would determine which business he would focus on.
“I don’t mix up the different responsibilities, because I just want to make sure that the different teams in charge feel responsible and that there is no confusion between the different companies,” Ghosn said.
Musk may feel differently. During an SXSW panel in 2018, he said he effectively divides his time between his various businesses by hiring a strong team and assigning responsibilities appropriately. That way, he says, “almost all my time is spent on engineering and design.”
A leadership timeshare might sound familiar for Twitter: Co-founder Jack Dorsey served as CEO of Twitter and its other startup, payments company Square, from October 2015 to November 2021. Apparently Dorsey had a strategy time management of his own: He blocked out the same hours every week for management and employee meetings.
“I like to have a lot of rehearsals in my schedule,” Dorsey told Fast Company in 2016. “It allows us to see how we’re actually growing, rather than chance, which hides that.”
Ironically, when Dorsey initially took on both roles, Musk advised him against making that decision. “I wouldn’t recommend running two companies,” Musk said at the 2015 Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit. “It really diminishes your freedom a lot.”
News of Musk’s case comes more than a week after the billionaire’s status as Twitter’s largest outside shareholder, owning 9.2% of the platform, was revealed. The next day, Twitter offered Musk a position on their board, with the caveat that he couldn’t own more than 14.9% of the company’s outstanding shares. Five days later, the company reported that Musk had declined the position.
In the filing leaked on Thursday, Musk – who has more than 81 million Twitter followers – said his motivation for buying the company was to unleash Twitter’s “extraordinary potential” to be “the platform for freedom in life.” ‘expression in the world’.
“…and I believe that freedom of expression is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” reads his memo to the filing. “However, since making my investment, I now realize that the business will not thrive or serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed into a private enterprise.”
On Thursday afternoon, hours after posting his bid for Twitter, Musk told the TED2022 conference in Vancouver that he was “not sure” if his bid would succeed. He noted that he had a backup plan, but did not specify what that plan entailed.
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