Elon Musk Reportedly Tells Twitter Employees He Wants 1 Billion Users

He takes questions from his potential future employees.

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Elon Musk's profile picture on his Twitter page

Billionaire Elon Musk addressed Twitter employees Thursday about his proposed $44 billion acquisition.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Elon Musk on Thursday fielded questions from Twitter employees, who reportedly queried the billionaire over how his proposed $44 billion acquisition of the social media service could affect everything from content moderation to remote work.

Musk told the company's more than 7,500 employees that he is committed to both a diverse workplace and a diverse user base, according to The New York Times. Musk, who also runs electric car maker  Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX, expressed hopes the company's user base can reach at least 1 billion people, which he reportedly said would be the "most explicit definition of inclusiveness." Twitter had roughly 230 million daily users, according to its most recent earnings report.

He also suggested a laissez-faire approach to content moderation.

"We should allow people to say what they want," he reportedly told Twitter employees.

The remarks come amid widespread speculation that Musk is trying to renegotiate or cancel the deal he struck in April to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share. The price constituted a 38% premium to Twitter's closing stock price on April 1, when Musk revealed he had built up a more than 9% stake in the publicly traded company. Musk plans to take Twitter private. Since Twitter announced the deal, however, the company's shares have fallen amid concerns about the deal and a broader market selloff. 

On Thursday, Twitter shares rose 1.1% to $38.40 in early afternoon trading.

Neither Twitter nor Musk's lawyer responded to requests for comment.

Musk has said he wants to purchase Twitter to safeguard free speech, a term he uses vaguely. 

The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects speech only from government censorship. Private companies such as Twitter can make their own rules about what is permitted on their services. In May, Musk said he would lift Twitter's ban on former US President Donald Trump, but the politician has said he doesn't plan to rejoin the social network. Twitter permanently suspended Trump for violating Twitter's rules against glorifying violence after the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot.

The state of Musk's Twitter deal

The deal has periodically appeared to be on the rocks as Musk has repeatedly taken issue with Twitter's assessment of bots on the service. Last week, Musk lawyer Mike Ringler sent a letter to Twitter, accusing the social network of refusing to provide Musk with more information about spam and fake accounts. The Washington Post, citing a person familiar with the company's thinking, reported that Twitter planned to provide Musk with a trove of data. 

Twitter's shareholders still need to approve the deal in a special meeting that's expected to take place by early August. 

Musk has said that a lower price isn't out of the question. Twitter has signaled that it plans to move forward with the current deal.

The uncertainty about Twitter's deal with Musk has prompted plenty of questions about the social media site's future. Internally, Twitter employees have said they don't think Musk fully grasps the challenges around content moderation, Bloomberg reported, citing an internal discussion between employees before Twitter announced the deal with Musk. 

While Musk has vowed to "authenticate all humans," he told Twitter employees he doesn't plan to make people use their real names on the platform, The New York Times reported. He also reportedly praised Chinese social media apps WeChat and TikTok during Thursday's call. Twitter could integrate payments into its app so people could send money, Musk reportedly told Twitter employees. 

At one point, he told Twitter employees that he hadn't seen any evidence of alien life, according to multiple reports. The comment reportedly perplexed many attendees of the call.

Musk reportedly told employees that he wanted to be involved in Twitter's product and expected them to "listen to me in this regard." However, he shared no thoughts on what his title might be if the deal is completed.

He also appeared to indicate to employees that he preferred them to be in the office rather than working remotely, reportedly telling them it is "much better if you are on location physically." Despite reportedly pointing out his worries about remote work, Musk also said there are differences between working at a carmaker like Tesla and at a social media site, noting that people who are "exceptional at their jobs" can work remotely. 

CNET's Carrie Mihalcik contributed to this report.