Elon Musk turns SEC into super-Twitter

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. Reuters


SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. Reuters
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. Reuters
  • Elon Musk discloses in filing on Monday that he has acquired 9.2% stake in Twitter. 
  • Musk has claimed SEC is unfairly persecuting him.
  • Musk criticises Twitter asking whether company “rigorously adheres” to principles of free speech.

Unlike Twitter, Edgar isn’t a household name. But occasionally, the latter — the Securities and Exchange Commission’s public filing database — can be a more powerful platform. Tesla boss Elon Musk disclosed in a filing on Monday that he has acquired a 9.2% stake in Twitter. That sent the company’s shares up more than 20%, adding $7 billion-plus to its market capitalisation. It’s the ultimate attention-grabbing post.

As a measure of engagement, it’s hard to think of many posts on Twitter’s own platform that do better. One rare example might be Musk’s 2018 tweets that he was preparing to take Tesla private. Those posts sent the electric-car maker’s shares soaring. The SEC was unamused, forcing Musk to agree to let Tesla lawyers screen his posts.

Both the regulator and Twitter have come in for Musk’s ire. Musk has claimed the SEC is unfairly persecuting him read more. And he has tweeted about possibly creating an alternative to Twitter. 

Attacking how platform owners police content and threatening to move to a breakaway venue is a hallowed tradition – perhaps, especially among popular posters like Musk, who has 80 million followers. He has elevated the practice by spending billions of dollars on Twitter shares.

He is not alone in finding a new voice for Edgar. Banned from Twitter, former President Donald Trump threw his weight behind Truth Social, a would-be competitor whose agreement to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company brought a surge in its stock price. But progress has stalled, senior executives have departed and Trump has only posted once, Reuters reported reading. 

For the moment, Truth Social is more a volatile SPAC stock and a bundle of SEC filings than a fully-fledged network. These, too, have driven enthusiastic engagement, as measured by the market: Truth Social’s SPAC partner at one point was valued at only a little less than Twitter itself.

Twitter is used to being entangled with critics. Silver Lake’s Egon Durban sits on its board after Twitter signed an agreement with the private equity firm and activist Elliott Management. Musk may stick around, tweeting as he goes along. When it comes to airing his opinions about Twitter itself, though, the SEC’s Edgar platform may have an edge.



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