The purchase of Twitter for $44 billion by Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk on Monday fueled worry by Twitter employees and others that that the company could be moved out of state, or at least out of San Francisco, where the company has been headquartered since its founding in 2006.
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Neither Musk nor any Twitter executive said anything about a potential move on Monday, with Musk focusing solely on the sale and assuaging fears to users that he would use the platform as a way to limit-free speech despite being an advocate of free speech expansions on Twitter, would reinstate former President Donald Trump to Twitter, or other actions that would greatly change the platform. In a statement on Monday, Musk maintained his commitment to free speech, as well as improving the social media platform.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” said Musk on Monday. “Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”
Musk’s words quieted some critics, with the buyout causing Twitter’s stock to jump up over 5% before the bell on Monday. Other fears were also lessoned following the Twitter boards announcement that they rigorously assed Musk’s offer, with Twitter Board chair Bret Taylor noting on Monday that “The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing. The deal was best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
However, for many Twitter employees, the question over Musk’s commitment to California remained in the air.
“There’s no way we’re moving to a hellhole like Texas,” said a group of four Twitter employees in a Globe interview on Monday. “Everyone here is completely on edge after it was announced today. I mean, we’ve been this way for awhile with Musk coming in and out of being on the board or trying to buy us. But now that it has happened, and considering that Musk has moved so much he had in California out of state, we are very concerned.”
Concern of a move outside of San Francisco
In the past, Musk has had a mixed relationship with California. He personally moved from California to Texas in 2020, moving Tesla’s headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin late last year and SpaceX expanding into Texas. However, he has also shown remarkable commitment to the state, keeping the Space X headquarters in Hawthorne, improving the Tesla plant in Fremont, and building a new factory in Lathrop. Many in the tech industry have noted that Musk has hinted about moving Twitter out of San Francisco in the past.
“Musk has said before that he wants to turn Twitter’s HQ into a homeless shelter,” said Anthony Ferry, a San Francisco tech consultant, to the Globe on Monday. “He even reiterated on Twitter that he was serious. That’s not exactly concrete, but it is a red flag.”
“Plus many in Texas are trying to get Musk to move them in. Governor [Greg] Abbott tweeted to Musk earlier today to move them to Texas. So this isn’t just speculation. This is an active movement. If I was someone in power here in San Francisco I would be incredibly worried. Twitter is one of the main companies here for tech. If they were gone, many would start panicking.”
.@elonmusk. Bring Twitter to Texas to join Tesla, SpaceX & the Boring company.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 25, 2022
Twitter employees were also concerned.
“Beyond Musk taking over here, we’re worried just what he will do here now,” said “Saanvi,” one of the four Twitter employees interviewed, to the Globe. “We all have lives here now and like living here. No one really wants to go.”
Another employee, “David,” immediately added, “It may sound like we’re just exaggerating things, but we aren’t. We aren’t in some bubble. No one wants a move. And you can bet that the city doesn’t want them to go too. There’s a lot of taxes riding on Twitter here, as well as Twitter being an important part of the economy. California loses Twitter, there goes another big company as well as a lot in taxes and many well-paid employees.”
“If we don’t quit before,” added a third employee. “If there is a move, some of us might just move on elsewhere here rather than go there. This is something no one wants but Musk might. And if he does, well, remember when Boeing was moved out of Seattle and then tanked in Chicago because of the brain drain and all the mistakes with it? A lot of parallels here is all I’m saying.”
As of Monday, Musk nor anyone else in Twitter has mentioned a possible move, with no other city reporting on a move outside of speculation.
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