Elon Musk struck an agreement on Monday to buy Twitter for roughly $44 billion, setting up the biggest deal to take a company private in at least two decades.
Scrutiny is likely to be intense. Twitter is not the biggest social platform — it has more than 217 million daily users, compared with billions for Facebook and Instagram — but it has had an outsize role in shaping narratives around the world. Political leaders have made it a megaphone, while companies, celebrities and others have used it to hone images and make money.
Mr. Musk’s takeover attracted concern about the world’s richest person having control of an influential communication platform. A director at a women’s rights organization called it “a massively slippery slope.”
Twitter’s board has already unanimously approved the deal. Here’s what’s next for Twitter:
Shareholders will vote on whether to accept the deal. It will also be reviewed by regulators, but they are unlikely to seriously challenge the transaction, former antitrust officials said, since the government most commonly intervenes to stop a deal when a company is buying a competitor.
It is expected to take three to six months for the deal to close, according to Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal. He told Twitter employees that he would remain in his role at least until the deal closes, according to two people who attended an all-hands meeting and were not authorized to speak publicly. He also urged employees to “operate Twitter as we always have.”
Mr. Musk has repeatedly said he wants to “transform” the platform by promoting more free speech and giving users more control over what they see on it. On Monday, he said he would focus on “new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all humans.”
Executives tried to assure employees that they wouldn’t be shortchanged by Mr. Musk’s acquisition. Mr. Agrawal told them that their stock options would convert to cash when the deal with Mr. Musk closes. Employees would receive their same benefits packages for a year after the deal was finalized, and there were no immediate plans for layoffs, he added.
Conservatives, who feel they have been unduly silenced by social media platforms, cheered the news of Mr. Musk’s deal. Mr. Agrawal was asked by employees whether former President Donald J. Trump, who was banned from the service after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, would be reinstated. Mr. Agrawal deferred, leaving the question for Mr. Musk to answer once he takes over the company. For Mr. Trump’s part, he told Fox News on Monday that he would stick with posting on his own social network, Truth Social.