Jack Dorsey says Elon Musk shouldn’t have bought Twitter after all

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey issued his sharpest criticism yet of Elon Musk’s leadership of Twitter on Friday, saying Musk has not proven to be the platform’s ideal steward — and should have walked away from buying the site.

The criticism and explanations came in a series of response posts Friday night on the new social network Bluesky, a potential Twitter rival that Dorsey helped start. The remarks illustrate how Musk’s erratic leadership has disillusioned a one-time friend and powerful ally, reflecting a growing backlash against a tumultuous period that has sent advertisers fleeing and users scrambling for alternatives.

Dorsey said he believed Musk, the Tesla CEO who holds the same role at Twitter today, should have paid $1 billion to back out of the deal to buy the social media platform. The comments are a sharp reversal from Dorsey’s strong support for Musk’s takeover, when he wrote a year ago that if Twitter had to be a company at all, “Elon is the unique solution that I trust.”

“I trust his mission to expand the light of consciousness,” Dorsey tweeted at the time.

In his comments on Bluesky Friday, Dorsey struck a completely different tone.

What you should know about Bluesky, the new alternative to Twitter

Dorsey said he didn’t think Musk “acted right” after pursuing the site and realizing his potential mistake, adding that he didn’t think the company’s board should have forced the sale.

“It all went south,” Dorsey added.

Musk did not respond to a request for comment on Dorsey’s comments. Musk appeared on Friday night’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO, talking about topics including his time in charge of the company, a recent meeting with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.), and his concerns about rhetoric which comes from the political left.

“It was on a fast track to bankruptcy,” Musk said of Twitter. “So I had to take drastic measures. There was no choice.”

Musk took over Twitter in October after amassing a significant stake in the company in early 2022, accepting — then relinquishing — a board seat, and finally launching a hostile takeover attempt in April. He offered $54.20 per share, valuing the company at $44 billion.

Twitter’s board accepted Musk’s acquisition by the end of April, kicking off a deal that would take the company private. The terms of the deal included a $1 billion penalty, known as a “breakup fee,” should Musk decide to pull out.

(Experts have noted that Musk could have owed an amount far beyond the $1 billion fee if he breached the agreement.)

Soon after the deal, Twitter’s valuation fell significantly as financial pressures weighed heavily on the company and Tesla’s stock, the latter of which sharply reduced Musk’s net worth. Musk announced his intention to back out of the deal, and Twitter sued Musk to force him to complete the acquisition.

After a months-long legal battle, which included a countersuit from Musk, Musk and Twitter agreed to proceed with the deal in October, which closed later that month for $44 billion.

Musk’s tenure as Twitter boss has been marked by steep cutbacks, an intense work environment and a wholesale overhaul of the site’s user experience. Twitter has leaned heavily into a subscription model and curated feeds that aim to show users content that they like to engage with. Since Musk’s takeover, Twitter’s staff has been reduced by around 80 percent.

Dorsey previously apologized for growing the company “too quickly” after Musk embarked on layoffs that reduced the company by about 50 percent. Since then, he has criticized Musk’s decision-making at times, taking to Twitter to express his disagreement with Musk’s renaming of the site’s “Birdwatch” feature to “Community Notes,” for example.

Dorsey rolled over his $1 billion stake in Twitter to Musk’s privatized Twitter, The Post previously reported.

In his comments on Friday, Dorsey did not take responsibility for Musk’s acquisition of the company, claiming that “every company is for sale to the highest bidder” and that the board had no choice but to accept his offer.

“Was I optimistic? Yes, Dorsey said. “Did I have the last word? No.”

When Musk tried to pull out, Dorsey added, “I wish the board wouldn’t have forced the sale. Maybe there was a chance, but now we’ll never know.” Regarding Musk’s decision to complete the purchase rather than pay a $1 billion fine to end it, Dorsey said, “I think he should have gone and paid $1 billion.”

Bluesky is part of a project, initiated by Dorsey when he was still Twitter’s CEO, to build a “decentralized” social media system, where no individual or company controls the experience. While Twitter has invested in Bluesky, it is now a separate company with its own CEO. In recent days, it has quickly attracted high-profile Twitter users, some of whom have become disaffected with the platform under Musk.

In response to a post in which a user said, “It’s pretty sad how it all went down,” Dorsey simply replied, “Yes.”

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