Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover Spurred on by ‘PayPal Mafia’ and More: Report

Behind the scenes of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s recent $44 billion USD acquisition of social media platform Twitter, the celebrity billionaire’s campaign to buy the company and take it private was egged on by Twitter co-founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as other billionaires including Musk’s former ‘PayPal Mafia’ colleagues — reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to the publication’s sources with knowledge of the matter, Dorsey had for years shared in and supported Musk’s belief that Twitter should be a private company, much like it was once before.

The two billionaires sometimes replied to each other on Twitter, and they often traded private messages. One former Twitter executive said Dorsey would often be distracted in meetings because he would be texting Musk during the workday.

Dorsey and Musk reportedly shared not only interests but also thoughts about how Twitter could be better. According to former Twitter employees, the pair often discussed whether Twitter could be run more effectively as a private company, as it had been for its first seven years after Dorsey launched it with several co-founders.

Both Dorsey and Musk saw Twitter primarily as a potential public good, rather than a business focused on short-term profits.

Musk’s ambitions to add Twitter to his collection of companies also became a vehicle for those with an axe to grind against the platform for its content moderation and management, and many of these individuals now hope to be reinstated to Twitter under the world’s richest person’s vision to make it “the platform for free speech around the globe.”

One of these people, right-wing provocateur Charles C. Johnson, reached out to Jared Birchall, head of Musk’s personal investment office and his point man on the Twitter deal, upon learning about the Tesla CEO’s takeover offer.

“When do I get my Twitter account back?” Johnson asked.

“Hopefully soon,” Birchall told him.

Johnson was banned from Twitter in 2015 for tweets asking to raise funds for “taking out” a prominent Black Lives Matter activist.

Beyond Dorsey and Johnson, the ranks of the close-knit group that encouraged Musk to buy Twitter behind the scenes include former PayPal executives known as the ‘PayPal Mafia’, including investor Peter Thiel and entrepreneur David Sacks. Others in Musk’s corner include venture capitalist and former Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson, and Musk’s own brother, Kimbal, people familiar with the matter said.

Musk’s bid for Twitter was reportedly calculated and put together swiftly, but the billionaire hasn’t really revealed much about his plans for the platform beyond stressing the importance of uncensored, free speech. According to a report from earlier this week, Musk’s first priorities are job cuts and new ways to monetize Twitter.

People who have spoken to Musk said he remains dismayed over former President Donald Trump still being banned from Twitter, so restoring his Twitter account may be one of Musk’s first acts as showrunner. Trump, however, said earlier in the week that he will not be returning to Twitter even if his account is reinstated.

Read the full report over at The Wall Street Journal — it also profiles Musk’s history as a Twitter user.