Elon Musk
A new book claims Elon Musk purchased Twitter after former CEO Parag Agrawal turned down his request to block an account tracking his jet. Wikimedia Commons

Former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal's rejection of Elon Musk's bid to silence a jet-tracking account ignited a chain reaction that ultimately led to Musk's controversial acquisition of the platform.

A seemingly small decision by Agrawal, who was previously in charge of Twitter (now X), might have unintentionally fuelled Elon Musk's eventual takeover in January 2022.

A new book claims that after the Indian-American software engineer refused to remove a handle tracking his private jet, the billionaire retaliated by buying Twitter stock, ultimately leading to his acquisition of both the platform and its parent company.

As expected, Musk sacked Twitter's top executives, including Agrawal, after taking control. "Musk was already peeved with Agrawal, with whom he'd had a terse text exchange weeks earlier after Agrawal chastised Musk for some of his tweets," reads an excerpt from Battle for the Bird, a book penned by Bloomberg's Kurt Wagner.

"Musk had also unsuccessfully petitioned Agrawal to remove a Twitter account that was tracking his private plane; the billionaire started buying Twitter shares shortly after Agrawal denied his request," Wagner notes in his book, which is slated for release on February 20.

"He's a really nice guy. What Twitter needs is a fire-breathing dragon and Parag is not that," Musk had said after meeting with Agrawal in March 2022.

According to the Simon and Schuster listing page, the book offers "expertly reported investigation into Twitter's messy corporate history—including Elon Musk's takeover in 2022, its outsized cultural impact, and its significant role in shaping how the world gets its news".

Parag Agrawal paved the way for Elon Musk's Twitter acquisition

Musk had reportedly reached out to Agrawal to block ElonJet, a handle run by American programmer Jack Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida. The account (now banned) maintained records of the Tesla chief's carbon footprint and had over 500k followers in its heyday.

The business magnate reportedly offered to pay Sweeney $5,000 (£3.9k) to stop his endeavours. However, Sweeney asked for $50,000 (£39.5k) or an internship in one of Musk's companies. Musk ultimately decided that it did not "feel right" to pay and close the account.

ElonJet was finally banned a year after a stalker followed a car carrying Musk's 2-year-old son X Æ A-12 under the assumption that Musk was inside. The SpaceX boss announced on the platform that action was being taken "against Sweeney and organisations who supported harm to my family".

After purchasing Twitter stock, Musk got in touch with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey to find a spot on the company's board of directors, but that move was also thwarted. Undeterred by these challenges, Musk began the push to purchase Twitter outright with Dorsey's encouragement.

Musk completed the acquisition at $44 (£34.84) billion in October of that year. According the Musk's biography, penned by Walter Isaacson, Twitter reminded the billionaire of his longtime vision of building an "everything app," while fulfilling his constant need to reach the next level in life.

X under scrutiny: New challenges emerge for Elon Musk

A California court sided with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ordering Musk to answer further questions about his acquisition of Twitter on February 12. Deeming the SEC's investigation legitimate and the requested testimony relevant, the judge rejected Musk's arguments that the inquiries were irrelevant and constituted harassment, according to a Reuters report.

US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler issued the order over the weekend, formalising a previous tentative ruling made in December that favoured the SEC's position. Back in 2022, Musk had testified before the SEC twice in half-day sessions.

The SEC was examining whether Musk followed disclosure rules and did not lie about his Twitter stock purchases and intentions. Musk, on the other hand, believes the investigation was baseless and sought irrelevant information.

However, the agency claims it has since received "thousands of new documents" from various parties including some authored by Musk. The agency wants to ask Musk about the newly discovered information.