Elon Musk’s private texts were included in new court filings on Thursday as part of the lawsuit brought by Twitter to make the billionaire buy the social media company. And whatever you think of Musk’s weird attempt to back out of the deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion, the texts provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at 21st century dealmaking in the tech sector.
The texts, which were first published online by New York Times reporter Kate Conger, include exchanges Musk had with podcaster Joe Rogan, Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, tech investor Jason Calacanis, and Oracle founder Larry Ellison, among plenty of others.
Some of the texts are just friendly jokes, like when investment banker Michael Grimes texted Musk a YouTube link to the Lynyrd Skynrd song “Free Bird.” But other texts will have serious consequences for Musk’s case, like when Elon texts his brother on April 9, 2022 about an idea to create a new social media app on a blockchain after already agreeing to join the Twitter board. Just two days later, it became public that Elon didn’t want to be on the board anymore.
Musk asks fellow billionaire Larry Ellison if he’s interested in helping take Twitter private, and Ellison offers up $1 billion like it’s the spare change he’d find in his cushions to make a run for some snacks at 7-11. Musk replies that Ellison should invest $2 billion.
We’ve selected some of the most interesting texts included in the court filing below, but if you want to read them all they’re available here. While there are plenty of blacked out redactions for things you’d expect, like addresses and other identifying information, there are some curious redactions of entire names where it’s not clear who’s communicating with Musk.
We’ve done our best to compile the text conversations to make sure they’re easy to read but there are times when Musk is texting with two people at the same time. An instance where that might matter is the text exchanges between Elon and his brother Kimbal as well as Elon and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on April 9, 2022. Elon was both texting his brother about starting a new social media company while also texting with Agrawal about not wanting to serve on the board anymore.
Gizmodo has also embedded screenshots of tweets that only appear as URLs in the court filings.
March 5, 2022
EU passed a law banning Russia Today and several other Russian news sources. We have been told to block their IP address.
Actually, I find their news quite entertaining
Lot of bullshit, but some good points too
Antonio Gracias, Director of Tesla (2007-2021):
This is fucking nuts...you are totally right. 100% agree with you.
We should allow it precisely be we hate it...that is the ping of the American constitution.
Free speech matters most when it’s someone you hate spouting what you think is bullshit.
I am 100% with you Elon. To the fucking mattresses no matter what....this is a principle we need to fucking defend with our lives or we are lost to the darkness.
Sorry for the swearing. I am getting excited.
Loved “I am 100% with you Elon. To the fucking mattresses no matter what this is a principle we need to fucking defend with our lives or we are lost to the darkness.”
March 24, 2022
TJ [affiliation unclear] [Edit, October 4: We now know TJ is Musk’s ex-wife Talulah Jane Riley]:
Can you buy Twitter and then delete it, please!? xx
America is going INSANE.
The Babylon Bee got suspension is crazy. Raiyah and I were talking about it today. It was a fucking joke. Why has everyone become so puritanical?
Or can you buy Twitter and make it radically free-speech?
So much stupidity comes from Twitter xx
Maybe buy it and change it to properly support free speech xx
March 26, 2022
Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter:
Yes, a new platform is needed. It can’t be a company. This is why I left.
What should it look like?
I believe it must be an open source protocol, funded by a foundation of sorts that doesn’t own the protocol, only advances it. A bit like what Signal has done. It can’t have an advertising model. Otherwise you have surface area that governments and advertisers will try to influence and control. If it has a centralized entity behind it, it will be attacked. This isn’t complicated work, it just has to be done right so it’s resilient to what has happened to twitter.
Super interesting idea
I’m off the twitter board mid May and then completely out of company. I intend to do this work and fix our mistakes. Twitter started as a protocol. It should have never been a company. That was the original sin.
I’d like to help if I am able to
I wanted to talk with you about it after I was all clear, because you care so much, get it’s importance, and could def help in immeasurable ways. Back when we had the activist come in, I tried my hardest to get you on our board, and our board said no. That’s about the time I decided I needed to work to leave, as hard as it was for me.
Loved “I wanted to talk with you about it after I was all clear, because you care so much, get it’s importance, and could def help in immeasurable ways. Back when we had the activist come in, I tried my hardest to get you on our board, and our board said no. That’s about the time I decided I needed to work to leave, as hard as it was for me.”
Do you have a moment to talk?
Bout to head out to dinner but can for a minute
[roughly 13 minutes later]
I think the main reason is the board is just super risk averse and saw adding you as more risk, which I thought was completely stupid and backwards, but I only had one vote, and 3% of company, and no dual class shares. Hard set up. We can discuss more.
Let’s definitely discuss more
I think its worth both trying to move Twitter in a better direction and doing something new that’s decentralized
It’s likely the best option. I just have doubts. But open
Liked “It’s likely the best option. I just have doubts. But open”
March 30, 2022
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer media group, which owns Politico and Protocol:
Why don’t you buy Twitter? We run it for you. And establish a true platform of free speech. Would be a real contribution to democracy.
I’m serious. It’s doable. Will be fun.
April 4, 2022
Joe Lonsdale, cofounder of Palantir:
Excited to see the stake in Twitter - awesome. “Back door man” they are saying ha ha. Hope you’re able to influence it. I bet you the board doesn’t even get full reporting or see any report of the censorship decisions and little cabals going on there but they should - the lefties on the board likely want plausible deniability!
Liked “Excited to see the stake in Twitter - awesome. ‘Back door man’ they are saying ha ha. Hope you’re able to influence it. I bet you the board doesn’t even get full reporting or see any report of the censorship decisions and little cabals going on there but they should - the lefties on the board likely want plausible deniability!”
April 4, 2022
[Name full redacted]
Congratulations!! The above article was laying out some of the things that might happen: Step 1: Blame the platform for its users Step 2. Coordinated pressure campaign Step 3: Exodus of the Bluechecks Step 4: Deplatforming “But it will not be easy. It will be a war. Let the battle begin.”
It will be a delicate game of letting rightwingers back on Twitter and how to navigate that (especially the boss himself, if you’re up forthat) I would also lay out the standards early but have someone who has a savvy cultural/political view to be the VP of actual enforcement
A Blake Masters type
April 4, 2022
Joe Rogan, podcaster:
Are you going to liberate Twitter from the censorship happy mob?
I will provide advice, which they may or may not choose to follow
April 5, 2022
Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter:
I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmuskto our board! Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to me that he would bring great value to our Board. Why? Above all else, he’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on Twitter, and in the Boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!
Sending out shortly?
April 5, 2022
Thank you for joining!
Absolutely. Hope I can be helpful
Immensely. Parag is an incredible engineer. The board is terrible. Always here to talk through anything you want.
When is a good time to talk confidentially?
[roughly 1.5 hours pass]
Thanks, great conversation!
Always! I couldn’t be happier you’re doing this. I’ve wanted it for a long time. Got very emotional when I learned it was finally possible.
Loved “Always! I couldn’t be happier you’re doing this. I’ve wanted it for a long time. Got very emotional when I learned it was finally possible.”
Please be super vocal if there is something dumb I’m doing or not doing. That would be greatly appreciated.
I trust you but def will do
April 9, 2022
I have an idea for a blockchain social media system that does both payments and short text messages/links like twitter. You have to pay a tiny amount to register your message on the chain, which will cut out the vast majority of spam and bots. There is no throat to choke, so free speech is guaranteed.
The second piece of the puzzle is a massive real-time database that keeps a copy of all blockchain messages in memory, as well as all message sent to or received by you, your followers and those you follow.
Third piece is a twitter-like app on your phone that accessed the database in the cloud.
This could be massive
Kimbal Musk, Elon’s brother:
I’d love to learn more. I’ve dug deep on Web3 (not crytpo as much) and the voting powers are amazing and verified. Lots you could do here for this as well
I think a new social media company is needed that is based on a blockchain and includes payments
Would have them pay w a token associated w the service? You’d have to hold the token in your wallet to post. Doesn’t have to expensive it will grow overtime in value
If you did use your own token, you would not needs advertising it’s a pay for use service but at a very low price
With scale it will be a huge business purely for the benefit of the users. I hate advertisements
Liked “With scale it will be a huge business purely for the benefit of the users. I hate advertisement”
There are some good ads out there. The voting component of interested users (only vote if you want to) could vote on ads that add value. The advertisers would have to stake a much larger amount of tokens, but other than there is no charge for the ads. It will bring out the creatives and the ads can politically incorrect/art/activision/philanthropy
Voting rights could also crowdsource kicking scammers out. It drives me crazy when I see people promoting the scam that you’re giving away Bitcoin. Lots of bad people out there
April 9, 2022
Prag Agrawal, Twitter CEO:
You are free to tweet “is Twitter dying?” or anything else a bout Twitter - but it’s my responsibility to tell you that it’s not helping me make Twitter better in the current context. Next time we speak, I’d like to you provide you perspective on the level of internal distraction right now and how it hurting our ability to do work. I hope the AMA will help people get to know you, to understand why you believe in Twitter, and to trust you - and I’d like the company to get to a place where we are more resilient and don’t get distracted, but we aren’t there right now.
What did you get done this week?
I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of time.
Will make an offer to take Twitter private.
Can we talk?
April 9, 2022
Bret Taylor, co-CEO of Salesforce and chair of Twitter’s board of directors:
Parag just called me and mentioned your text conversation. Can you talk?
Please expect a take private offer
I saw the text thread. Do you have five minutes so I can understand the context? I don’t currently
Fixing twitter by chatting with Parag won’t work
Drastic action is needed
This is hard to do as a public company, as purging fake users will make the numbers look terrible, so restructuring should be done as a private company.
This is Jack’s opinion too.
Can you take 10 minutes to talk this through with me? It has been about 24 hours since you joined the board. I get your point, but just want to understand about the sudden pivot and make sure I deeply understand your point of view and the path forward
I’m about to take off, but can talk tomorrow
April 14, 2022
Jason Calacanis, tech investor and podcaster:
You should raise your offer
The perfect counter
You could easily clean up bots and spam and make the service viable for many more users —Removing bots and spam is a lot less complicated than what the Tesla self driving team is doing (based on hearing the last edge case meeting)
And why should blue check marks be limited to the elite, press and celebrities? How is that democratic?
The Kingdom would like a word...
Back of the envelope... Twitter revenue per employee: $5B rev / 8k employees = $625K rev per employee in 2021 Google revenue per employee: $257B rev / 135K employee = $1.9M per employee in 2021 Apple revenue per employee: $3658 rev/ 154k employees = $2.37M per employee in fiscal 2021
Twitter revenue per employee if 3 k instead of 8k: $58 rev / 3k employees = $1.66m rev per employee in 2021 (more industry standard)
Emphasized “Back of the envelope... Twitter revenue per employee: $5B rev / 8k employees = $625K rev per employee in 2021 Google revenue per employee: $2578 rev / 135K employee = $1.9M per employee in 2021 Apple revenue per employee: $365B rev/ 154k employees - $2.37M per employee in fiscal 2021"
Insane potential for improvement
Sharpen your blades boys
2 day a week Office requirement -20% voluntary departures
I mean, the product road map is beyond obviously
Premium feature abound- and twitter blue has exactly zero
What committee came up with the list of dog shit features in Blue?!? It’s worth paying to turn it off!
Yeah, what an insane piece of shit!
Maybe we don’t talk twitter on twitter DM [laughing emoji]
Was just thinking that haha
Nothing said there so far is anything different from what I said publicly.
Btw, Parag is still on a ten day vacation in Hawaii
No reason to cut it short... in your first tour as ceo
Shouldn’t he be in a war room right now?!?
Does doing occasional zoom calls while drinking fruity cocktails at the Four Seasons count?
April 16, 2022
Haha even Governor DeSantis just called me now with ideas how to help you and outraged at that board and saying the public is rooting for you. Let me know if you or somebody on your side wants to chat w him. Would be fun to see you if you guys are around this weekend or the next few days.
April 20, 2022
Any interest in participating in the Twitter deal?
Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle:
Yes...of course [thumbs up emoji]
Roughly what dollar size? Not holding you to anything, but the deal is oversubscribed, so I have to reduce or kick out some participants.
A billion...or whatever you recommend
Whatever works for you. I’d recommend maybe $2B or more. This has very high potential and I’d rather have you than anyone else
I agree that it has huge potential... and it would be lots of fun
April 23, 2022
I REALLY hope you get Twitter. If you do, we should throw a hell of a party.
April 23, 2022
Jason Calacanis, tech investor and podcaster:
It feels like everyone wants the same exact thing, and they will be patient and understanding of any changes... Twitter Stans area reasonable, good faith bunch
These dipshits spent a years on twitter blue to give people exactly— Nothing they want!
Splitting revenue with video creators tike YouTube could be huge unlock
We could literally give video creators 100% of their ad revenue up to $lm then do split
5 Teams: 5 Northstar metrics 1. Legacy Opps: uptime, speed 2. Membership team: remove bots while getting users to pay for “Real Name Memberships” $5 a month $50 a year. Includes 24 hours response to customer service 3. Payments: % of users that have connected a bank account/made a deposit 4. Creator Team:get creators to publish to twitter first (musicians, YouTubers, tiktokers, etc) by giving them the best % split in the industry (and promotion) 5. Transparency Team: make the Algorithm & Moderation understandable and fair
I think those are the 5 critical pieces... everyone agrees to “year one” sprint, including coming back to offices within the first 60 days (unless given special dispensation for extraordinary contribution)
Hard Reboot the organization
Feels like no one is setting priorities ruthlessly... 12,000 working on whatever they want? No projects being cancelled?!
Move HQ to Austin, rent gigafactory excess space
Want to be a strategic advisor if this works out?
Board member, advisor, whatever... you have my sword
Loved “Board member, advisor, whatever... you have my sword”
If 2, 3 or 4 unlock they are each 250b+ markets
Payments is $250-500b, YouTube/creators is $250b+
Membership no one has tried really.... So hard to estimate. 1-5m paid members maybe @ $50-100 a year? 250k corporate memberships @ 10k a year?
You are a mind reader
Put me in the game coach!
Twitter CEO is my dream job