March 3, 2020
Hedge fund Elliott Management has taken a sizable stake—although it won’t say just how much- in the San Francisco-based social network Twitter and plans to push for changes at the company, including replacing Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey, according to people familiar with the matter.
According to a report by Reuters, Twitter is one of the few U.S. technology companies headed, but not controlled, by one of its founders. It has given shareholders equal voting rights, making Dorsey, who owns only about 2% of the company, vulnerable to a challenge from an activist investor such as Elliott.
And word is out that Elliot would like to see Dorsey go. NPR reported on March 1 that Elliott is concerned that Dorsey hasn’t focused enough on Twitter, because he is also chief executive of payments company Square. The hedge fund is pushing for a CEO whose sole job is running Twitter.
Adding pressure, Elliott has nominated four directors to the company’s board, according to two people familiar with the matter, NPR said. The two sides have had constructive talks, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Twitter and Elliott declined to comment.
The worry is that under Dorsey’s leadership, Twitter is not poised to capitalize on a flood of news this year—including the U.S. presidential election, the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo—and the coronavirus outbreak, that could attract people and advertisers to the platform.
Elliott approached San Francisco-based Twitter about its concerns privately and has had constructive discussions with it since then, the people said.
Twitter has been a potential target for activist investors for years, according to Bloomberg News. The company only has one class of stock, the news outlet notes, which means co-founder Dorsey doesn’t have voting control of the company like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Snapchat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy.
Research contact: @NPR