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Elon Musk Isn't Joining Twitter's Board After All

The decision comes as Musk's relationship with Twitter continues to evolve.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk hasn't been shy about sharing his thoughts on Twitter.
Photo by Patrick Pleul/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk won't join Twitter's board of directors, the social network's CEO tweeted on Sunday, the latest twist in the Tesla chief's quickly evolving relationship with the social media company.

In a note to staff later made public, Parag Agrawal said Musk turned down a board seat on April 9, the day the appointment was supposed to take effect. Agrawal didn't say why Musk decided to not join the board, and a Twitter spokesman declined to share additional information outside of the CEO's statement. The decision followed Musk's disclosure on April 4 that he had accumulated a 9.2% stake in the company, which makes him the largest shareholder in the company.

The unexpected move has raised more questions about how big a role Musk will play in Twitter's future. As part of his agreement to join the board, Musk had pledged to cap any investment in Twitter at 14.9% while he served a two-year term. With the agreement now scrapped, Musk may be able to continue adding to his stake.

Musk's decision not to join Twitter's board could lead to a Game of Thrones-like battle between the tech mogul and the social media company, noted Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. It's highly likely Musk "takes a more hostile stance towards Twitter and further builds his active stake in the company." 

He could also team up with a private equity partner and force more changes at Twitter, create more noise on social media about platform changes or decide to reduce his stake in the company and "go home," Ives wrote in the note.

Agrawal said he believes Musk's decision to not join the board was "for the best." The company would "remain open to his input," he said.

"We announced on Tuesday that Elon would be appointed to the Board contingent on a background check and formal acceptance. Elon's appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning that he will no longer be joining the board. I believe this is for the best. We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input."

Shortly afterward, Elon Musk tweeted a single emoji -- a face with eyes closed and hand over mouth -- which was later deleted.

The soap opera-worthy turn of events capped a week during which Musk tweeted a stream of polls about Twitter to his 81 million followers as more about his involvement became known. Since word of his stake became public, Musk has tweeted about the company's role in preserving free speech and questioned whether the social network is "dying." The flurry of activity had many suggesting Musk would push for change at the company, which lags behind peers like Facebook, TikTok and Instagram in users and engagement. 

Musk, though, has since deleted some of his tweets, including one that asked whether Twitter's headquarters should be turned into a homeless shelter because "no one shows up anyway." Musk also deleted a tweet that asked if the letter "w" should be removed from Twitter.

Twitter said last week that its policy decisions aren't determined by either the board or shareholders, and it has no plans to reverse any existing policies. Musk's stake in Twitter sparked speculation about whether he could push for the return of former US President Donald Trump to the platform. Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in 2021 after the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots because of concerns his remarks could fuel more violence. 

The Tesla and SpaceX chief took his stakeworth about $2.89 billion, on March 14, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Musk had been expected to speak to Twitter employees, but a company spokesperson said it's safe to assume that event is no longer happening. 

Some Twitter employees appeared relieved that Musk isn't joining Twitter's board. Twitter's director of machine learning ethics, Rumman Chowdhury, tweeted on Monday that she was bothered by Musk's "chilling effect" on the company's employees. "Twitter has a beautiful culture of hilarious constructive criticism, and I saw that go silent because of his minions attacking employees," she tweeted.