According to Elon Musk’s own math, X formerly known as Twitter has lost 90% of its worth leaving its value at measly $4 billion
Elon Musk says the most shocking things. But the message he posted in the evening of Labor Day (4th September 2023) may rank as the most negative, in fact self-indicting, assessment a business leader has ever put forward about own enterprise.
Musk fired off this baffling salvo while attacking the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish-led civil rights organization. The ADL had sturdily objected to virulently anti-semitic tweets from far-right hate groups that X allowed on the platform. Musk accused that the ADL was “aggressive in their demands to ban social media accounts even for minor infractions,” and that the league was “trying to kill X” by pressurising advertisers to dodge the site. But the most inexplicable feature wasn’t that, once again, Musk shot off his mouth and hit his foot, but that he in fact put a number on the financial loss ostensibly inflicted by the ADL that’s likely to floor his lenders and partners.
His dumbfounding math applies to the current value of the business formerly known as Twitter. Musk’s has stated many times since he bought the platform last October that its value has plummeted, largely due to a disastrous drop in ad revenue. Musk acquired Twitter for whopping $44 billion, funded $13 billion through loans from highly acclaimed commercial and investment banks, and $31 billion in equity. Of the latter portion, Musk spent about $24 billion of his own cash, while investor-friends including Ron Baron, Larry Ellison, and Prince Al Waleed of Saudi Arabia provided $7 billion.
In the post, Musk makes accusation that “ADL seems responsible for most of our revenue loss” and adds “I don’t see any scenario where they’re responsible for less than 10% of the value destruction, so around $4 billion.” Logic compels us to assume that by “value,” Musk means the $44 billion shelled out for the property, not the equity portion. After all, if you purchased a home for $440,000, borrowed $130,000, and financed the remaining $310,000 in cash, and the price dropped, you’d calculate the drop in “value” based on how much less than $440,000 the abode would fetch today.
In Musk’s calculation, the ADL alone vaporized roughly $4 billion in X’s “value,” and that $4 billion accounts for around 10% of the entire drop in the company’s worth. That formula puts the aggregate fall at $40 billion. Since Musk and his partners paid $44 billion including debt, he’s suggesting that X platform would now change hands for mere $4 billion ($44 billion buying price minus the $40 billion in “value destruction”), for a drop of 90%. In effect, he’s stating that the $31 billion he and his partners invested in equity is entirely gone, and a big slice of the debt is also gone.
Does Elon Musk actually believe that X is now worth just $4 billion, as his bewildering post suggests? Maybe not. But he has just exacted yet another battering on his already struggling brand that will further dent its standing in the eyes of advertisers. His understanding may be that it’s okay to overstate the pain and throw around numbers when you’re the victim, when it’s somebody else’s fault. If X indeed proves a financial catastrophe, people are very likely to forget the excuses, and scrutinise the careening missteps from its impulsive sole-proprietor.
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