Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has claimed that Elon Musk is ‘f****** with the SEC,’ engaging in an elaborate scheme to drive up the value of his Twitter shares before selling them at huge profit.
Cuban, 63, has been closely following Musk’s moves in relation to the social media company, which Musk on Wednesday announced he wanted to take private for $43 billion.
Musk’s interest in Twitter has been fast and furious.
On March 14, he purchased 73,486,938 Twitter shares, or 9.2 percent of Twitter, for about $3 billion. The news was made public in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on April 4, and Musk became the largest shareholder.
Musk began speculating about changes to the site – renaming it ‘Titter’, adding edit buttons – and musing about converting the company’s headquarters into a homeless shelter. He even wondered whether Twitter had a future.
Cuban on Thursday said he has been watching with amusement, and concluded it was all part of an elaborate plan of Musk’s to toy with the SEC.
‘My conclusion, @elonmusk is f****** with the SEC,’ Cuban tweeted.
Elon Musk is pictured on Thursday, hours after making his bid for control of Twitter. The 50-year-old spoke in Vancouver on stage with TED curator Chris Anderson. Mark Cuban (right) said he thinks Musk is toying with the SEC
‘My strong intuitive sense is having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is important to the future of civilization,’ Musk said
He said that Musk’s filing of documentation with the SEC, officially stating his intentions, gave him legal cover to carry out his plan.
Musk was fined $40 million in September 2018 – half from him, half from his company Tesla – for tweeting about taking Tesla private, and sending the stock market into a frenzy.
Cuban said this time, he had the legal side sewn up.
‘His filing w/the SEC allows him to say he wants to take a company private for $54.20 Vs his ‘Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured’,’ said Cuban.
‘Price go up. His shares get sold. Profit up.
‘SEC like WTF just happened.’
Musk himself on Thursday denied that he wanted to buy Twitter for financial reasons, insisting he was motivated by protecting freedom of speech.
‘This is not about the economics,’ Musk said, speaking at a TED conference in Vancouver.
‘My strong intuitive sense is having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is important to the future of civilization.
‘Twitter has become kind of the de facto town square, so it’s really important that people have both the reality and perception that they are able to speak freely, in the bounds of the law.’
Elon Musk appeared at the TED2022 Conference on Thursday, saying that he is pursuing a hostile takeover of Twitter not for financial gain, but for the ‘future of civilization,’ saying that he has a ‘Plan B’ if his initial $43 billion offer fails
Musk seemingly took aim at the company’s remote working policies, saying he came up with the plan ‘since no one shows up anyway’
The second tweet about deleting ‘w’ saw Musk give two options without ‘no’ as an answer
Cuban – who has previously spoken of his admiration for the 50-year-old maverick – was unconvinced, and thought it was all part of an amusing, lucrative game for Musk.
He added: ‘Elon may have started this, but his threat to sell his shares, if twitter says no, opened the door for those tech giants to walk in for relatively ‘little’ money and grab huge influence at Twitter or possibly a direct path to acquisition.
‘Elon will smile all the way to the bank.’
Cuban said he thought Twitter’s board would try everything in their power to stop Musk taking over the company.
‘I think Twitter will do everything possible not to sell the company,’ he said.
‘They will try to get a friendly to come in and buy Elon’s shares and get him out.’
He added: ‘Want to see the whole world lose their s***? Get Peter Thiel to partner with Elon and raise the bid for Twitter.’
Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is worth an estimated $4.7 billion
On Thursday afternoon the CEO of Twitter, Parag Agrawal, told staff that the board had not yet made a decision about Musk’s offer, and gave no timelines.
Musk launches bid in text message to Twitter chair
According to a regulatory filing, Musk launched his takeover bid in a text message to Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor on Wednesday.
The text message read:
As I indicated this weekend, I believe that the company should be private to go through the changes that need to be made.
After the past several days of thinking this over, I have decided I want to acquire the company and take it private.
I am going to send you an offer letter tonight, it will be public in the morning.
Are you available to chat?
Cuban, who is worth an estimated $4.7 billion, has spoken warmly of Musk, whose $219 billion fortune dwarfs even Jeff Bezos’s $171 billion.
‘I like Elon Musk,’ Cuban told The New York Post in June 2020.
‘He can be full of himself sometimes, but he is the only entrepreneur in my lifetime that truly takes on projects that most people would be afraid to even try, and [he] makes them work.’
‘The guy is a machine who gets things done and seems to have some fun along the way. I admire that.’
He previously compared Musk to Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, and following a strange 2018 Tesla earnings call, in which Musk called analysts’ questions ‘boring’ and ‘boneheaded,’ Cuban defended him.
‘It’s okay for [a CEO] to have an attitude,’ Cuban told CNBC in May 2018.
‘You don’t have to be vanilla all the time – that’s just life.’
Cuban added that he respects Musk as a founder who ‘puts his heart out there.’
The Texan businessman did take issue with Musk in April 2020, when Musk called COVID lockdowns ‘fascist’.
Musk was angered by the restrictions placed on his Tesla factory workers.
‘Anything that negatively impacts Tesla, Elon hates, period, end of story,’ he said.
‘You know, I don’t think he has other people’s interests at heart.’