Texts released ahead of Twitter trial show Elon Musk assembling the deal Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter went down via private text messages between the Tesla CEO and a small circle of Silicon Valley's rich and powerful, according to court filings released this week.

Texts released ahead of Twitter trial show Elon Musk assembling the deal

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter was hatched via private text messages between the Tesla CEO and a small circle of Silicon Valley's rich and powerful. A court in Delaware has released a stream of text messages as part of the legal battle over whether Musk has to follow through on the merger agreement he signed to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Joining us for more on where this lawsuit stands is NPR business reporter Raquel Maria Dillon. Good morning, Raquel.

RAQUEL MARIA DILLON, BYLINE: Good morning.

FADEL: So first, Raquel, tell us why the court would release these text messages.

DILLON: They're part of evidence in Twitter's lawsuit against Musk. That case is just a couple weeks from trial, so the legal teams are going back-and-forth, trying to get access to communications and internal documents to prove their arguments. And to be honest, the case has been very technical so far. The Delaware court, where this case was filed, is very staid and by the book 'cause they deal with these corporate cases that are worth more money than you can get your head around. And then the texts dropped yesterday, and suddenly, it's no longer dry and boring. It's like these billionaires are human. They text like the rest of us.

FADEL: So what was in them?

DILLON: Well, reading the conversations, you can almost see the idea of buying Twitter take shape in Elon Musk's mind. The lawsuit is going to decide if that actually happens - meaning who owns Twitter - and people are interested in the fate of Twitter, 'cause it's so influential, and also curious about Musk because of his business savvy. And here it is on display. He's doing the deals via text message. But if he made a big mistake by signing a binding contract to acquire Twitter, some people are also going to enjoy seeing him squirm.

FADEL: OK. So who was he talking to?

DILLON: Well, investors, his finance guy, a couple reporters, random people who are interested in Twitter and well-connected enough to have an introduction. To be honest, there is a lot of sucking up; also a few telling exchanges. Jack Dorsey, Twitter's co-founder and former CEO, eggs on Musk a lot. They seem to share ideas about free speech on the platform. Also Musk and Twitter's current CEO, Parag Agrawal, have this momentary bromance. They bond 'cause they're both engineers turned CEOs and have spent time coding in the trenches. And then just a couple days after that interaction by text, they have a falling out - though not via text. Musk is like, I'm out. I'm not on your board. I'm going to take Twitter private.

FADEL: Yeah, but these aren't just a few bros texting. These are the world's billionaires texting. What else was in those messages?

DILLON: The amount of money rolling around in these text messages is mind-boggling. In one exchange in April, Larry Ellison, who founded Oracle, expressed interest in taking Twitter private. And Musk says, how much? Ellison says, and I quote, "a billion, or whatever you recommend." And Musk asks for $2 billion, and he gets it. So then fast-forward a few months, here we are, almost to a trial that could be a showdown of sorts between a tech executive who likes to make his own rules and a rule-bound business court that decides when to hold people to their promises. At the end of it, Musk could find himself the unwilling owner of a troubled social media company and also out $44 billion.

FADEL: Oh, just $44 billion. NPR's Raquel Maria Dillon in San Francisco, thank you so much.

DILLON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARLEY CARROLL'S "SEVEN CROWS")

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