Twitter has accepted Elon Musk's buyout for about $44 billion, likely adding a social media giant to the Central Texan’s expansive portfolio that includes companies in automaking, spacecraft and more.
The path to Musk’s Twitter takeover started a few weeks ago when he became Twitter’s largest shareholder. Days later, he tweeted an offer to buy the company at $54.20 a share, which Twitter has now agreed to.
Twitter’s chairman Bret Taylor said the board had “conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty and financing. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
The micro-blogging platform that launched in 2006 has its headquarters in San Francisco, California. In recent weeks, some have wondered if Musk will decide to bring Twitter to Texas, as he’s done with his other ventures including Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring Company. Adding to the hype, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made a direct request to Musk.
.@elonmusk. Bring Twitter to Texas to join Tesla, SpaceX & the Boring company.— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott) 1650919610
Before the deal became official, Musk hinted at what was to come and posted about his desire for users to continue using the platform that sees about 217 million daily users.
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk) 1650903150
He reiterated this point in a press release announcing the purchase.
"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," Musk said.
He went on to note other priorities like adding new features, making the algorithms open source, and tackling issues with bots. “Twitter has tremendous potential—I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” Musk said.
But some Austinites and other users are skeptical of what Musk’s approach to free speech would look like.
New Twitter Verification Rules...\n\nTesla Model 3 Owners = \n\nTesla Model Y Owners = \n\nTesla Model X Owners = \n\nTesla Model S Owners = and $1000 of Dogecoin\n\nPrius Owners: Facebook— Evil MoPac (@Evil MoPac) 1650902429
Jokes aside, Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has left many wondering if he’ll change the permanent ban on former president Donald Trump, who’s set to visit Austin next month. The site kicked Trump off following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal, who assumed the position last year after founder Jack Dorsey announced his departure, provided a brief statement in the deal’s announcement.
"Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world,” Agrawal said. “Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important."
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.