Billionaire Elon Musk has brought cars, plans for tunnels and spacecraft to Texas, could a social media giant be next?
Musk started his Thursday morning by posting a link to his offer to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, or about $43 billion.
Taking Twitter private at $54.20 should be up to shareholders, not the board— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk) 1649967128
Given his choice to set up camp in Texas—which includes moving the Tesla headquarters to the southeast Travis County gigafactory last year and exploring other projects in the state like a Boring Company tunnel in San Antonio—it wouldn't be too far fetched to think he would bring the tech giant to a Texas city.
Currently, Twitter is headquartered in Silicon Valley, but Musk has had his own beef with California. During the pandemic, he feuded with the state over its pandemic policies—and tweeted about it—which didn't allow operations at the Tesla Alameda factory in May 2020.
Still, what does his potential acquisition of Twitter mean for Austin?
Twitter is one of the few that hasn’t sought out much of a presence in the capital city—or Texas at all—even as Meta aims to occupy what may eventually be the tallest tower in Austin and TikTok also makes a move downtown.
But as Musk aims to strike a deal just days after news that he would not join Twitter’s board of directors, many are wondering about what implications his offer could have on the company's future.
He has stated his take that Twitter “needs to be transformed as a private company” and that in doing so he’d try to keep as many shareholders in privatized Twitter as allowed by law. But aside from the shareholders, how will this shakeup affect other aspects of Twitter? Could it also cause changes to the physical site?
He’s already hinted at a desire to make adjustments to Twitter’s work operations. In a now-deleted poll, Musk asked his nearly 82 million followers if the San Francisco headquarters should be converted to a homeless shelter, later adding that “he’s serious about this one btw.”
At the TED2022 conference in Vancouver on Thursday, Musk talked about his wishes for the platform saying, "I think it's very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech."
Still, it’s unclear how this could all turn out. He also said he’s actually “not sure” he’s able to buy Twitter and didn’t elaborate on what his Plan B would be if the offer is rejected.
Further, he reportedly lost his spot as Twitter’s largest shareholder, when asset manager Vanguard Group upped its stake. CNBC reported that analysts wonder how he’d fund this takeover bid, considering that he may have to sell Tesla shares to make it happen since much of his assets aren’t liquid.
Will endeavor to keep as many shareholders in privatized Twitter as allowed by law— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk) 1649963167
Either way, his interest in Twitter appears relentless. He continued to tweet Thursday about his offer, saying it would be “utterly indefensible” not to put the offer to a shareholder vote.
According to other reports, Twitter plans to address Musk’s offer during an all-hands meeting at 5 p.m. ET.
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Flyers are less satisfied with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport than a year ago, a new study shows.
Research firm J.D. Power placed ABIA at No. 15 on a list ranking overall customer satisfaction at large airports, a slip from last year’s spot at No. 7. Other Texas airports secured rankings ahead of Austin, with Dallas Love Field at third, Houston Hobby at eight, and San Antonio International Airport at ninth.
Dallas/Ft. Worth ranked eight in the "mega airport" category.
The study examined airports based on the following factors: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.
On a 1,000-point scale, Austin-Bergstrom received 785 points this year compared to its score of 819 in 2021.
Passenger experiences at Austin-Bergstrom have been influenced by population growth in Central Texas, which has brought record traffic and longer wait times at TSA. And a recent power outage at Austin-Bergstrom caused flight delays. Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power., said that consumer satisfaction with flying has decreased overall.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated—and it is likely to continue through 2023,” Taylor said.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, commented on the ranking.
“We're grateful that AUS customers continue to rank our airport above average, especially during this year that saw air travel disruption here in Austin and across the globe as airports, airlines and the air travel industry continued navigating the impacts of the pandemic,” Grimmett said. “We look forward to delivering near-term and long-term improvements through our Journey With AUS program to improve the passenger experience.”
That program is slated to bring a new midfield concourse to increase gates and connect to the Barbara Jordan Terminal through an underground connector tunnel.
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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.