Musk’s high-profile attempt to take over Twitter was quickly followed by his high-profile attempt to pull out of the deal. The fate of the acquisition is currently mired in a Delaware court, as the company tries to compel Musk to go through with the arrangement.
But in the beginning, Musk had multiple billionaire suitors willing to help him put together money to buy Twitter, according to text messages made public this week as part of a pretrial discovery process. One of them was Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, and one of the biggest names in crypto.
Bankman-Fried may have been comfortably willing to put anywhere between $3 and $8 billion on the table to fund Musk’s Twitter acquisition, according to text messages between Musk and Will MacAskill, an ethicist and professor at Oxford University who referred to Bankman-Fried as his “colleague.”
But after an initial back-and-forth, Musk seemed to pull the plug on Bankman-Fried’s tentative participation, although it seems the Tesla and SpaceX CEO was cagey about the crypto king’s involvement in the deal from the very start.
Neither Bankman-Fried nor Musk immediately replied to Fortune’s request for comment.
Bankman-Fried’s offer for a “joint effort” Twitter bid was first proposed by MacAskill.
MacAskill said that Bankman-Fried had “for a while been interested in purchasing it and then making it better for the world,” according to a text dated March 29.
Musk seemed initially reluctant to engage with MacAskill, or accept his offer to introduce him to Bankman-Fried. Musk’s first response to MacAskill’s greeting was curt: “Does he have huge amounts of money?”
MacAskill replied that “huge amounts of money” was a subjective term, but that Bankman-Fried was worth around $24 billion, and was willing to contribute $1 to $3 billion easily, and possibly up to $8 billion.
“That’s a start,” Musk replied.
After MacAskill requested to loop Bankman-Fried into the conversation, Musk asked the Oxford professor if he could vouch for the FTX founder. MacAskill replied that he did, and that Musk and Bankman-Fried both shared a love for “making the long-term future of humanity go well.”
Musk and Bankman-Fried then had a brief exchange over scheduling a call, although there would be no further texts between the two for a month.
Then, on April 25, Bankman-Fried came up again in a conversation between Musk and Michael Grimes, head of global technology banking at Morgan Stanley. Grimes also vouched for Bankman-Fried, calling him a “ultra genius and doer builder” who could advise on a potential social media blockchain integration.
Grimes proposed a meeting between Musk and Bankman-Fried in late April, something Musk agreed to “so long as I don’t have to have a laborious blockchain debate.”
Grimes noted that the FTX CEO would likely only be able to put up $5 billion, which Musk seemed to doubt, asking Grimes: “Does Sam actually have $3 billion liquid?”
Musk sent one last message to Bankman-Fried on May 5, apparently unclear who he was texting with: “Sorry, who is sending this message?”
Bankman-Fried did not appear on a list of investors when Musk filed paperwork for the purchase of Twitter that month.
It is unclear why Bankman-Fried would be interested in helping Musk buy Twitter in the first place. In a response to another Fortune reporter, someone familiar with Bankman-Fried’s thinking sent a Twitter thread from the crypto founder from this past July, in which he discussed how social media and blockchain technology could be integrated to provide a better experience for users. He wrote that different social media platforms do not give users the chance to communicate across networks. He proposed that integrating social media with blockchain would mean messages and contact networks could migrate seamlessly across multiple platforms.
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