Former editor recalls how his company handled Musk’s takeover bid

  • Conrad Quilty-Harper was digital editor at New Scientist magazine when Elon Musk considered buying him.
  • In an op-ed, he pointed to early signs of a “hostile takeover” bid from Musk, including cryptic tweets and DMs.
  • If Musk tweets that he wants to buy your company, don’t panic,” he wrote.

A former digital editor of New Scientist magazine has shared his first-hand experience of how the company handled a bid for Elon Musk, the world’s richest person.

“Barbarians at the gate? Try the billionaire in DMs,” Conrad Quilty-Harper wrote in an op-ed for Bloomberg published last week.

Quilty-Harper, who currently works as a digital editor for the outlet, wrote that Musk’s recent “unsolicited offer” to buy Twitter was a “trigger event” that reminded him of the events surrounding the billionaire’s bid in 2019 to buy New Scientist.

Here’s how the bid went down: On April 5, 2019, Musk tweeted at New Scientistasking the publication to fix its paywall.

“Your content is great, but your paywall isn’t,” Musk wrote. “I think I paid for a subscription at least three times, but your paywall keeps forgetting that.”

The billionaire’s followers then tweeted suggestions that he buys the publication himself. In response, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX seemed to take into account the recommendationsbefore nonchalantly Tweeter minutes later: “How much does it cost?”

“Ultimately no deal was reached – although the company was subsequently sold to the Daily Mail Group for approximately £70m ($92m),” Quilty-Harper wrote. “But Musk’s offer left management wondering how to respond.”

He wrote that the experience taught him the “key indicators” that signal an impending “hostile” takeover bid by Musk.

“The harbinger of an impending takeover bid from Musk is that he’s following your account. Is he @-ing you with encrypted tweets? Is he direct message you?” Quilty-Harper wrote.

He added that the next step is to stay calm.

“If Musk tweets that he wants to buy your company, don’t panic,” Quilty-Harper wrote. “Good advice in any circumstance. Especially when the fate of your business rests on the whims of the richest man in the world – with 81.7 million Twitter followers – who seems to relish chaos.”

Quilty-Harper also advised companies in similar roles to trust their social media manager – whom he described as “the most important person in your entire company” – and have a “game plan” in place. emoji”.

He also suggested that responding with an emoji could strike the “right balance” between taking the offer seriously while offsetting the embarrassment if the offer turns out to be a joke.

Quilty-Harper added that it was also important to be “concise” in her response, referring to New Scientist CEO Nina Wright. answer, which was released less than half an hour after Musk’s offer.

Wright’s tweet didn’t seem to have deterred Musk, who replied: “Hi Nina! So…how many pounds would that take? Just between us.”

Quilty-Harper’s final piece of advice? Don’t take the process too seriously.

“Musk has never bought New Scientist, and as he admitted on Thursday, he may never buy Twitter. So it’s best to respond cautiously to any offers with a big grain of salt.” he writes.

Musk said on Thursday he had secured the necessary funding for a tender offer to buy Twitter.

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