Why Elon Musk has Jack Dorsey’s ‘trust’ to run Twitter—a look back at their friendship

If Twitter is now Elon Musk’s world, it seems Jack Dorsey is ready to live in it.

On Monday – after weeks of back and forth between the richest man in the world and Twitter’s board – Musk bought the company at $54.20 per share, a deal valued at $44 billion. That same day, Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted Musk was the “singular solution” he trusts to transform the platform.

“In principle, I don’t believe anyone should own or run Twitter,” Dorsey tweeted Monday night. “It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company. Solving for the problem of it being a company however… I trust [Musk’s] mission to extend the light of consciousness.”

As it turns out, Musk and Dorsey have a similar vision for how Twitter should operate. In the same thread, Dorsey tweeted Musk’s “goal of creating a platform that is ‘maximally trusted and broadly inclusive’ is the right one.'” He also wrote Twitter’s current CEO, Parag Agrawal, shares that mission, too – which was crucial for “taking [Twitter] back from Wall Street” and its ad model.  

The sentiment appears to echo Musk’s offer from earlier this month, in which the billionaire stated, “Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company” specifically because “I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.”

But Musk and Dorsey’s commonality dates back farther than Monday’s headlines. At the 2016 Dmexco digital marketing event in Cologne, Germany, Dorsey said Musk was a “really good model” for how to use Twitter, according to Business Insider. In February 2019 Twitter interview, Dorsey told New York Times reporter Kara Swisher he respected how Musk was “focused on solving existential problems and sharing his thinking openly” on the platform.

Musk replied, “Thanks Jack, Twitter rocks.”

At a Twitter company event in January 2020, Dorsey asked Musk about the platform and how he would improve it. Musk replied he would find a way to better differentiate bots from real people on the platform – which Musk also vowed to improve since he offered to buy Twitter.

And the admiration has flowed both ways. In March 2020, when Dorsey was on the verge of being ousted as CEO by an activist hedge fund, Musk stated his allegiance to Dorsey, tweeting “He has a good heart.”

But Dorsey may have more to gain from Musk’s Twitter purchase than friendship alone. If the deal is completed, Dorsey’s 2.25% stake in the company – which is about 18 million shares according to FactSet – would be valued at roughly $975 million at Musk’s price of $54.20 per share. By contrast, at its current market value, Dorsey’s shares are worth $933 million as of Tuesday morning.

Musk, who consistently advocates for free speech on Twitter, has gotten himself into trouble on the platform. In a settlement with the SEC over an August 2018 tweet, Musk relinquished his chairman role, but remained CEO, at Tesla and paid a $20 million fine. In the tweet, Musk said he had enough funds to take Tesla private. According to the agency, the statements were “misleading,” and Musk didn’t properly notify regulators.

In February 2019, the SEC also accused Musk of violating the agreement when he tweeted about Tesla production numbers, but the sides eventually agreed to amending the original settlement for clarity, instead.

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