🚀 Twitter and the battle for "free speech"
Plus, announcing our newest investment - Bounce!
This week’s tech news was dominated by one story: Elon Musk’s successful bid for Twitter. After weeks of back-and-forth, Twitter’s board accepted his offer of ~$44B, a 38% premium to the trading price before Musk disclosed his stake in the company.
Unsurprisingly, the announcement generated a lot of controversy. It’s not often (ever?) that an individual spends this much to purchase a company with their own money, not as a strategic acquisition for an existing business. Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post felt like a surprise, and that was only a $250 million deal!
Most of the debate centers around Musk’s intentions for Twitter. He’s publicly stated he believes Twitter censors free speech, and that it should be more politically neutral - a viewpoint that many users agree with. An equally vocal contingent argues that Twitter does enough to protect free speech, and fear that weakening the company’s content moderation will create an environment where hate speech thrives.
As a side note: underlying the debate about Twitter is a bigger disagreement about what “free speech” means. Where do we draw the line of what is and isn’t Constitutionally protected?
Musk is also under fire for public statements critical of Twitter employees. In the most notable example, he posted a meme about the company’s Legal, Policy and Trust Lead (though he didn’t mention her name), a move that former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo called as “bullying.” To some, this is par for the course - public figures should expect commentary on their work. Others believe that Musk should be responsible for the barrage of abusive comments that the exec received from his followers.
The core of the issue seems to be this: Musk doesn’t behave in the manner we’ve come to expect from major CEOs. From a professional perspective, it’s unusual to see someone lead multiple companies at once (Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, The Boring Company). He’s also smoked weed on a podcast, sold $10M in flamethrowers, beefed with other billionaires, and regularly tweets memes. He doesn’t play by the rules, and sometimes gets in trouble for it - his infamous “funding secured” tweet about taking Tesla private at $420/share created major issues with the SEC.
Some are offended by Musk’s behavior, and / or argue that billionaires simply shouldn’t own major tech platforms and media outlets. Others find him refreshing—or at least entertaining—and are optimistic that he’ll turn around a business that hasn’t quite lived up to its potential. In fact, Twitter’s stock has been basically flat since IPO in 2013. The company ended its first ever day of trading at $44 per share, and is being sold for $54 per share nine years later.
While the Board has approved the acquisition, it’s not done quite yet. CEO Parag Agarwal said on the company’s All Hands meeting that it could take up to six months for the deal to close. Musk has to finalize the financing - as of now, he plans to pay $21 billion in cash (he sold $8.5B in Tesla stock this week), with an additional $13 billion in debt and $12.5 billion in loans against his Tesla stock. If Tesla’s stock price falls, Musk will have to put up more collateral to meet margin loan requirements.
What’s your take on Elon acquiring Twitter?
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🚨 New investment alert! This week, our team at a16z led the Series A in Bounce, a marketplace for consumers to access underutilized space in local businesses.
Bounce’s first product is luggage storage for travelers. In more than 1,000 cities worldwide, you can find and book a place to leave your bag for the day - and squeeze in some extra sightseeing time! Bounce also recently launched package acceptance. You can use a local business as a Ship-To address, and your package will be safely stored until you are able to pick it up.
These are the first of many services Bounce is launching to make life more flexible for consumers. The company was inspired by CEO Cody Candee’s two years traveling the world with only a few suitcases. Bounce also generates much-needed income and foot traffic for local businesses, and has paid out more than $1M in revenue to SMBs during COVID.
We’ve been beyond impressed by the Bounce team’s resilience. The company was almost killed by COVID, with revenues falling 99% overnight in 2020 - but they rebounded to grow almost 40x in 2021. The company now serves more than 10,000 customers per month. If you’re traveling soon, check them out!
Read more from Bounce CEO Cody Candee here and a16z GP Andrew Chen here.
Rough Draft Ventures launched RDV University - a six week summer incubator for student founders in New York. Applications are due 5/20, check it out here!
Bounce - Chief of Staff (Remote)
Affirm - Associate Product Manager (Remote)
TrueNorth - Biz Ops Analyst (Remote)
Roo - Market Launcher* (Remote)
Ribbon - Expansion Ops Associate (Remote)
ARK Investment Management - VC Associate (St. Petersburg, Remote)
Ludlow Ventures - Associate (Various)
Emerson Collective - Healthcare Venture Associate (SF)
Step - Finance & Strategy* (Palo Alto, Remote)
Dandy - Strategy & Special Projects Associate (NYC)
Co–Star - Chief of Staff (NYC)
*Requires 3+ years of experience.
a16z - Crypto Intern (Remote)
Vial - Corp Dev Intern (Remote)
Morning Brew - Strategy & Ops Intern (Remote)
Kajabi - Community Engagement Intern (Remote)
Thirty Madison - Marketing Intern (SF)
Kapwing - Growth Marketing Intern (SF)
Checkr - Product Intern (SF)
Poshmark - PM Intern (Redwood City)
Bytedance - Product Ops Intern (Mountain View)
Ritual - MBA Business Development Intern (LA)
Atom Finance - Financial Products Intern (NYC)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Duke, a sixteen-month-old goldendoodle who lives in SF.
He enjoys sourcing new chew toys (from his mom’s closet), rolling around at the park, and meeting new hoomans and furriends.
Follow him on Instagram @duke.golden.doodle!
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And let's not forget paying $44 billion to buy Twitter is nothing compared to the ~$500 billion Fiverr package that Mark Zuckerberg spent on his Meta rebranding. Hilarious times, truly.