Here's What Jack Dorsey Told Elon Musk in Private Texts About Twitter

Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
Expertise I've been writing about social media since 2015 but have previously covered politics, crime and education. I also have a degree in studio art. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie award for consumer analysis
Queenie Wong
2 min read
Billionaire Elon Musk at a conference

Elon Musk talked to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey before he struck a deal to buy the company.

James Martin/CNET

What's happening

Text messages between Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and billionaire Elon Musk reveal more details about what took place before he offered to buy the company for $44 billion.

Why it matters

Musk is trying to back out of the deal and Twitter sued the billionaire to enforce the agreement. The messages were included in court documents involving the legal battle and highlight how Dorsey envisioned the future of Twitter.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey told billionaire Elon Musk in March that he "tried his hardest" to get him a seat on the social media company's board but his idea was rejected, according to a slew of private texts made public Thursday in court documents. 

"I think the main reason is the board is just super risk averse and saw adding you as more risk, which I thought was completely stupid and backwards," Dorsey said in a text to Musk on March 26. 

Dorsey, who stepped down as Twitter CEO in 2021 but remained on the board until May 2022, told Musk that he made the move to get Musk a board seat when the company had an activist come in. Elliott Management, the activist investor that called for the ousting of Dorsey as CEO, got a seat on Twitter's board in 2020. 

The conversation between Dorsey and Musk reveals more details about what took place before the Tesla and SpaceX leader decided to strike a deal with Twitter in April to buy the company for $44 billion. Musk and Twitter are currently in a legal fight over the deal after the billionaire tried to back out of the agreement. Before Twitter announced the deal, Musk also flip-flopped about being on the company's board and ultimately decided not to join. 

Twitter's relationship with Musk has been a rocky one. Twitter sued Musk in July. That case is scheduled to go to trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery on Oct. 17. The company alleges that Musk is trying to pull out of the deal because his personal wealth has fallen since their agreement so the company has become more expensive for him to purchase. Musk, by contrast, accuses Twitter of misrepresenting the number of spam and fake accounts on its site. He alleges the price he agreed to buy Twitter for is inflated. 

The texts also shows why Dorsey decided to leave Twitter. "Yes, a new platform is needed. It can't be a company. This is why I left," he told Musk. When Musk asks Dorsey about what Twitter should look like, he replies that he thinks Twitter should be "an open source protocol, funded by a foundation of sorts that doesn't own the protocol, only advances it." He points to encrypted messaging app Signal as an example and also adds that Twitter can't be funded through ad dollars, which is how the company currently makes most of its money.

"It should have never been a company," he told Musk. "That was the original sin." Musk responded to Dorsey, stating he thought it was a "super interesting idea" and offered to help.

Some of Dorsey's remarks echo what he tweeted publicly in April after Twitter and Musk announced the deal. In a tweet on April 25, Dorsey said he didn't believe that anyone should own or run Twitter but taking it back from Wall Street is the "correct first step."