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GOP donor-run hedge fund has seat on Twitter board but can’t say anything about tech firm’s policies


Powerful GOP donor Paul Singer is the founder and co-CEO of a hedge fund with a seat on Twitter’s board.

But that does not imply Singer can affect the social media big’s policies to be extra sympathetic to his celebration or President Donald Trump – even because the commander-in-chief rails towards Twitter.  

As a part of a take care of Twitter earlier this 12 months, the fund, Elliott Management, agreed that it’s going to neither share its opinion on Twitter coverage nor attempt to affect its selections. 

That’s regardless of Elliott’s monitor document of pushing for big company actions, and Singer’s personal historical past of creating his political and coverage views recognized on points starting from the Dodd-Frank financial institution reform invoice to taxation. 

Twitter has begun to take a extra lively function in political discourse, stamping warning indicators on content material it deems inflammatory, harmful or improper. The firm not too long ago turned heads when it utilized the requirements to a few of Trump’s tweets.

Last week, it slapped warning labels on two of Trump’s tweets that made deceptive claims about mail-in voting. It later hid a publish from Trump that it stated glorifies violence, when Trump tweeted, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” after protests and riots broke out in Minneapolis following the demise of George Floyd. Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a police officer held his knee to his neck for greater than eight minutes. 

Trump, in flip, has threatened the social media big and different tech companies with an govt order he says would crackdown on censorship. Opponents say the transfer threatens the First Amendment. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has proven no indications of plans to again right down to Trump’s threats, tweeting on Monday a requirement for “police reform now,” following a weekend of protests and riots within the wake of Floyd’s demise.

 

Elliott Management and personal fairness agency Silver Lake Capital, which each have representatives on Twitter’s board, have been silent on the corporate’s current coverage strikes. The funds gained the seats after Elliott, which had a roughly 4% stake in Twitter as of March, threatened to wage a proxy combat towards the corporate and push for the removing of Dorsey

Legally, neither Elliott nor Silver Lake can say a factor.

To stave off a possible brutal combat between Elliott and Twitter, the 2 struck a deal in March that added Elliott associate Jesse Cohn and Silver Lake co-CEO Egon Durban to the Twitter board.  The board agreed to the creation of a sub-committee to evaluation the corporate’s management construction − together with its succession plan − and publicly disclose the outcomes of that evaluation by the top of the 12 months. Twitter on Tuesday appointed former Google chief monetary officer Patrick Pichette as the corporate’s new chairman of the board. 

The deal additionally included a $1 billion funding in Twitter from Silver Lake, which Twitter stated would fund a $2 billion share repurchase program. 

And − in response to paperwork Twitter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission − it ensured that Silver Lake and Elliott won’t “comment on nor influence, nor attempt to influence, directly or indirectly” any firm coverage, guidelines, or  enforcement selections “with respect to the independence or impartiality of decisions related to content moderation on the Twitter platform or access to Twitter user data.”

That stipulation was pushed for by Twitter, an individual conversant in the state of affairs informed CNBC. It was additionally supported by Elliott, which didn’t need added hypothesis about the firm’s affect on Twitter’s policies, one other particular person stated. 

The deal for Twitter means two fewer voices to hearken to, because the political panorama grows extra heated 5 months out from the presidential election. It additionally offers Twitter assurances to supply its workers that its executives are making their selections with out stress from its new traders.

That safeguard comes as Facebook workers maintain digital walkouts in protest over Facebook’s selections to let Trump’s controversial keep on the social media web site. 

For Elliott and Silver Lake, the impact is hazier. Financially, it isn’t clear that there can be any impression on the coverage dispute on Twitter’s backside line, which is normally the first focus of traders like Elliott and Silver Lake. 

Still, Singer, the billionaire founding father of Elliott, will not be recognized for staying quiet.

Singer has poured thousands and thousands into supporting the Republican Party. He was, at one level, a staunch Trump opponent, financing a conservative web site that employed Fusion GPS to dig up filth on the President when he was nonetheless a candidate.

Since Trump has turn into president, although, Singer has continued to fund the GOP. In a speech final 12 months at Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, the free-market think-tank he chairs, he attacked policies pushed by the Democratic presidential candidates as “left-wing statism lubricated by showers of free stuff promised by politicians who believe that money comes from a printing press rather than the productive efforts of business people and workers.”

The political opinions of Jesse Cohn, the Elliott consultant on Twitter’s board are much less well-known. Cohn labored within the mergers and acquisitions group at Morgan Stanley and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He can be a board member on eBay.

Elliott and Silver Lake declined to remark. Twitter did not instantly reply to a request for remark.



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