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Elon Musk buys 9% stake in Twitter, becoming platform's largest shareholder

 SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and the SpaceX team are recognized by Vice President Mike Pence at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center following the launch of the company’s Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station on May 30, 2020.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and the SpaceX team are recognized by Vice President Mike Pence at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center following the launch of the company’s Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station on May 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Elon Musk can now add "social media magnate" to his list of titles.

The billionaire entrepreneur, who runs both SpaceX and Tesla, has purchased a 9.2% stake in Twitter, regulatory documents (opens in new tab) released on Monday (April 4) reveal. His stake in the company is worth nearly $2.9 billion based on Friday's (April 1) stock prices, Bloomberg reported (opens in new tab).

That makes Musk the social media platform's largest single shareholder, according to Bloomberg, which also noted that Twitter's stock price increased as much as 27% on Monday in response to the news.

Elon Musk: SpaceX founder and revolutionary private space entrepreneur

The purchase doesn't come completely out of left field. On March 25, Musk posted a Twitter poll (opens in new tab) asking his followers if they believe the platform "rigorously adheres" to the principle of free speech. "The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully," he added in another tweet (opens in new tab) that day.

More than 2 million people participated in the poll, and over 70% of them voted "no."

Musk has long been one of the most popular and prolific Twitter users. He frequently employs the platform to give his more than 80 million followers updates about new products and systems in development, such as SpaceX's huge Starship Mars rocket. He also dispenses a wealth of memes, jokes and opinions about current events.

Some of Musk's Twitter posts have landed him in trouble. For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Musk for fraud in September 2018, claiming he misled investors with a tweet from August of that year stating that funding had been secured to take Tesla private at $420 per share. ("420" is a recurring joke with Musk; the number references April 20, a cannabis culture holiday (opens in new tab).)  

The SEC dispute was settled when Musk and Tesla each paid a $20 million fine and Musk agreed to step down as Tesla's chairman, as Reuters reported (opens in new tab)

Musk is the richest person in the world, according to Forbes, whose "real-time billionaire" tracker (opens in new tab) pegs the entrepreneur's current net worth at $302 billion. Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is a distant second, at $194 billion.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.