Just before Twitter announced it’s accepting Elon Musk’s $44 buyout bid, the world’s richest man tweeted, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”
His commitment is getting a mild test thanks to a fellow tech billionaire / rocket enthusiast / media mogul. Jeff Bezos quoted a New York Times reporter’s tweet pointing out that Tesla’s business interests in China could give the government leverage over Twitter via its new owner, saying, “Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?.”
Bezos is far from the only person with questions, comments, and criticisms over Elon Musk buying Twitter (Twitter employees are likely near the front of the line). However, unlike most, he owns the Washington Post and has a net worth ($177.5 billion) vaguely within Elon’s range ($264.6 billion).
Reports suggest Elon’s purchase should close without much regulatory trouble, but pushing the angle of possible undue influence from a foreign government is one way you could gum up the works... if you had a few billion dollars and some extra time on your hands. Of course, as Elon once told me, “Twitter is fun,” and maybe this is just how billionaires joke, like poking each other on Facebook or something. Or maybe Jeff is like a lot of us and is a bit uneasy about who might own his unencrypted DMs in a few months.
Or maybe things went a little too far — Bezos followed up his spicy tweet with two more posted about 90 minutes later, saying the answer is “probably not,” and that “Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.
Update April 25th, 9:47PM ET: Added follow-up tweets from Bezos.