- Elon Musk said neither he nor Twitter have ever accepted an investment from Sam Bankman-Fried or FTX.
- Musk dismisses a recent report by Semafor, calling it “a lie.”
- Semafor previously reported that Sam Bankman-Fried was involved in the newly private Twitter.
Elon Musk denies that embattled FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried or FTX has owned shares of Twitter since Tesla CEO privatized the company and dismisses a recent report by Semafor.
On Tuesday, Semafor reported that Tesla CEO Bankman-Fried texted May 5 inviting him to swap his public Twitter shares for a stake in Musk’s private company, just weeks after Musk offered to sell Twitter for $44 billion to buy.
“As I said, neither I nor Twitter have taken any investment from SBF/FTX,” Musk tweeted on Wednesday in response to Semafor and its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith. “Your article is a lie.”
“He may have owned shares of Twitter as a public company, but he certainly does not own shares of 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 support for Musk’s plans for Twitter and said he couldn’t invest any new money in Twitter. According to the report, the crypto founder added that he has about $100 million in stock to contribute to the deal.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that a Nov. 10 FTX balance sheet listed Twitter stock as an “illiquid” asset.
Twitter and FTX officials did not respond to a request for comment from Insider prior to the release.
Musk first responded to the inside story on Semafor’s report in a tweet, called it “Wrong”. A person familiar with the deal also told Insider that saying SBF was involved in Twitter was “completely wrong.”
Musk also pointed out that Bankman-Fried was an investor in Semaforthe media outlet that reported that Bankman-Fried was involved with Twitter.
The site’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, confirmed the investment. “Like you and many others, we accepted an investment from him,” Smith said said in a reply to Musk on Twitter. “We’ve aggressively reported on him and disclose it every time we write about him, including here.”
In a later reply 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 that he’s ‘ ‘Welcome’ to take his public shares into Musk’s tweet, as Liz reported,” he said, referring to Semafor reporter Liz Hoffman.
—Ben Smith (@semaforben) November 23, 2022
Semafor later updated his story, adding a comment from Musk, who confirmed he texted Bankman-Fried about investing, but said the investment never happened.
The publication also clarified that its suggestion that Bankman-Fried invested in Twitter was based on the list of assets disseminated by FTX and removed a line describing the two men as “financial partners.”
Semafor also published a rectification of his story, explaining that the Wall Street Journal had reported that Bankman-Fried’s father was seen crying at a Bahamian tiki bar. An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that it was Bankman-Fried.
A regulatory filing in May this year listed 18 investors who have pledged to invest in Musk’s private Twitter, including FTX rival Binance and investors such as Sequoia and Fidelity. FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried were not on the list.
Multiple texts between Musk and Bankman-Fried regarding the Twitter acquisition were revealed earlier in September during the pre-trial investigation into Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk over his attempts to drop his purchase of the social app.
Bankman-Fried advisor Will MacAskill had reached out to Musk in March, saying the FTX founder had considered buying Twitter himself and was willing to contribute up to $8 billion to $15 billion to Musk’s purchase.
The two men made contact by 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 red marked” when he first met the FTX founder.
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 12, 2022
“Man, everyone, including the big investment banks — everyone was talking about him like he was walking on water and he had a million dollars, and that wasn’t my impression,” Musk said. “This guy is just – there’s something wrong and he has no capital and he’s not going to pull through. That was my prediction.”
Musk made the comments shortly after it was announced that FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to secure emergency funding. Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO and lost 94% of his net worth on the same day, according to Bloomberg.
Bankman-Fried isn’t the only one rolling over its public shares. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey transferred around $1 billion to the private company.
November 23: This story has been updated to reflect that Elon Musk said the Semafor story was wrong. Semafor did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.