- Elon Musk said neither he nor Twitter had ever taken an investment from Sam Bankman-Fried or FTX.
- Musk is rejecting a recent report from Semafor, calling it “a lie.”
- Semafor had earlier reported that Sam Bankman-Fried had a stake in the newly private Twitter.
Elon Musk is denying that the embattled FTX founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, or FTX own shares of Twitter since the Tesla CEO took the company private, rejecting a recent report from Semafor.
On Tuesday, Semafor reported that the Tesla CEO had texted Bankman-Fried on May 5, inviting him to roll over his public Twitter shares into a stake in Musk’s privately held company, a few weeks after Musk offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion.
“As I said, neither I nor Twitter have taken any investment from SBF/FTX,” Musk tweeted Wednesday in response to Semafor and its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith. “Your article is a lie.”
“He may have owned shares in Twitter as a public company, but he certainly does not own shares in Twitter as a private company,” Musk said in a separate tweet.
Semafor reported that Musk’s text in May followed a message from Bankman-Fried in which he expressed his support for Musk’s plans for Twitter and said he wouldn’t be able to invest new money in Twitter. According to the report, the crypto founder added he had about $100 million in stock he could roll over into the deal.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that an FTX balance sheet dated November 10 listed Twitter shares as an “illiquid” asset.
Representatives for Twitter and FTX didn’t respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.
Musk initially responded to Insider’s story on Semafor’s report in a tweet, calling it “False.” One person familiar with the deal also told Insider that it was “totally false” to say SBF had a stake in Twitter.
Musk also has pointed out that Bankman-Fried was an investor in Semafor, the media outlet that reported that Bankman-Fried had a stake in Twitter.
The site’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, acknowledged the investment. “Like you and many others, we took an investment from him,” Smith said in a response to Musk on Twitter. “We have covered him aggressively, and disclose it every time we write about him, including here.”
In a later response to Musk on Twitter on Wednesday, Smith posted a screenshot of a text conversation he said was between Musk and Bankman-Fried: “Here’s the text message from @elonmusk telling SBF he’s ‘welcome’ to roll his public shares into Musk’s twitter, as Liz reported,” he said, referring to the Semafor reporter Liz Hoffman.
—Ben Smith (@semaforben) November 23, 2022
Semafor later updated its story to include a comment from Musk, who confirmed that he’d texted with Bankman-Fried about investing, but said that the investment never took place.
The publication also made clear that its suggestion that Bankman-Fried invested in Twitter was based on the asset list circulated by FTX, and removed a line describing the two men as “financial partners.”
Semafor also issued a correction to its story, stating that The Wall Street Journal had reported that Bankman-Fried’s father was seen crying in a Bahamian tiki bar. A previous version of the story misstated that it was Bankman-Fried.
A regulatory filing from May of this year listed 18 investors that had committed to invest in Musk’s private Twitter, including FTX rival Binance and investors like Sequoia and Fidelity. FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried weren’t on the list.
Several texts between Musk and Bankman-Fried regarding the Twitter takeover were previously revealed in September during the pretrial discovery process for Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk over his attempts to ditch his purchase of the social app.
Bankman-Fried’s adviser, Will MacAskill, had reached out to Musk in March saying the FTX founder had considered buying Twitter himself and would be willing to contribute as much as $8 billion to $15 billion to Musk’s purchase.
The two men connected over the phone, and Bankman-Fried later decided not to invest in the acquisition, Axios previously reported.
Since then, Musk has repeatedly dissed Bankman-Fried on Twitter. Earlier this month, Musk said on Twitter Spaces that his “bullshit meter was redlining” when he first met the FTX founder.
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 12, 2022
“Man, everyone including major investment banks — everyone was talking about him like he’s walking on water and has a zillion dollars, and that was not my impression,” Musk said. “That dude is just — there’s something wrong, and he does not have capital, and he will not come through. That was my prediction.”
Musk’s made the comments shortly after news broke on that FTX was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to secure emergency funding. Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO and lost 94% of his net worth the same day, per Bloomberg.
Bankman-Fried isn’t the only one to roll over his public shares. Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey transferred about $1 billion into the private company.
November 23: This story has been updated to reflect that Elon Musk said the Semafor story was false. Semafor didn’t respond to a request for comment from Insider.