Who Owns Twitter: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Twitter: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Twitter Inc. (TWTR) is the company behind Twitter, a short message social media app. The company makes money predominantly from advertising. Let’s look at who owns Twitter and who controls the voting power.

The largest shareholder of Twitter is now Elon Musk, who took Twitter private in October 2022. Before that, at the beginning of 2022, the largest shareholder of Twitter was Vanguard (9% share), followed by Morgan Stanley (8%) and BlackRock (7%). Co-founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey owned a 2% stake.

 Twitter's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2021)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Vanguard 8.8% 8.8%
Morgan Stanley 8.4% 8.4%
BlackRock 6.5% 6.5%
Jack Dorsey 2.3% 2.3%
Other 74.0% 74.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Twitter largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart) Twitter largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart)

Before Elon Musk acquired Twitter and took it private, Twitter’s main shareholders were assets managers Vanguard, Morgan Stanley, and BlackRock, who were investing money of other people and institutions.

The only sizable individual shareholder required to disclose his stake was Twitter co-founder and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Jack Dorsey stepped down as Twitter CEO in November 2021.

Dorsey did not cash out of Twitter when it was acquired by Elon Musk and rolled over his stake to the new entity.

Twitter was founded in 2006 and had several co-founders. Aside from Jack Dorsey, who was also the first CEO, there was also Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams.

Of all of the Twitter co-founders, only Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams had a sizable stake at the time of Twitter’s IPO in 2013.

  • After the IPO, Jack Dorsey’s stake was 4.3%, and Evan Williams’s stake was 10.4%.
  • However, Williams, throughout the year,s sold its stake. When he stepped down from the Twitter board in 2019, he only had 10.5 million shares (approximately 1.4%).

In this article, I will dive more into who Twitter’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth. I will also explore some other topics related to its ownership structure.

If you are interested, you can also explore who are the largest shareholders in other companies like Apple, Meta(Facebook), Microsoft ,or Tesla.

🕹️ Who Owns Twitter (TWTR) and Who Has Control?

Twitter largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Unlike other technology companies like Alphabet(Google) or Meta(Facebook), Twitter has only one class of shares, and the founders control of the company was proportional to their stake.

After Twitter’s IPO in 2013, co-founders Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams had together nearly 15% stake. However, this stake slowly decreased, mainly thanks to Williams selling his stake, to just a few percentage points.

Currently, after Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion in 2022, control of Twitter is clearly in Elon’s hands as he is the controlling shareholder and also CEO of the company.

🗳️ Breakdown of Twitter’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

Twitter, Inc. had a total of 799 million outstanding shares as of December 2021. The following table shows how many shares each Twitter’s large shareholder holds.

 Twitter's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Class B Total % Share
Vanguard 70 - 70 8.8%
Morgan Stanley 67 - 67 8.4%
BlackRock 52 - 52 6.5%
Jack Dorsey 18 - 18 2.3%
Other 592 - 592 74.0%
Total (# millions) 799 - 799 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

There were 799 million votes distributed among shareholders of Twitter, Inc.. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Twitter's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Class B Total % Share
Vanguard 70 - 70 8.8%
Morgan Stanley 67 - 67 8.4%
BlackRock 52 - 52 6.5%
Jack Dorsey 18 - 18 2.3%
Other 592 - 592 74.0%
Total (# millions) 799 - 799 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

You can see that there is no difference between shares and votes, since Twitter had only a single class of shares at the time.

💵 Breakdown of Twitter’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Twitter, Inc. worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Twitter could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 Twitter's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Class B Total % Share
Vanguard $3 - $3 8.8%
Morgan Stanley $3 - $3 8.4%
BlackRock $2 - $2 6.5%
Jack Dorsey $1 - $1 2.3%
Other $26 - $26 74.0%
Total ($ billions) $35 - $35 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Let’s now look at each Twitter shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are the Largest Shareholders of Twitter, Inc.

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Twitter, Inc. one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in Twitter worth.

#1 Vanguard

Vanguard holds 9% of Twitter’s shares making it its largest shareholder.

Twitter largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Vanguard owns 70 million Twitter shares, representing 70 million shareholder votes. The market value of Vanguard’s stake in Twitter was $3 billion as of December 2021.

Vanguard (The Vanguard Group) is one of the largest asset managers in the world. It manages other people’s money through its mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and also offers other related investing and financial planning services.

Vanguard differs from other large asset managers by having no actual “owner .” Officially Vanguard says that its investors own it since its funds own it, and Vanguard fund investors own those funds.

However, the actual decision power is in the hands of Vanguard’s insiders since the ownership is diluted over millions of investors worldwide.

Vanguard has significant influence over the largest public companies. Thanks to its size, Vanguard usually belongs to the largest shareholders in those companies and has considerable power at their shareholder meetings. This is especially true if ownership is diluted.

Vanguard representatives make the calls about which shareholder proposal to support or not, even though Vanguard is not the ultimate owner of those stocks and they belong to their clients.

It means that just a few people in charge of the largest asset managers have significant sway over many publicly traded companies. They are usually the median investors that can push or kill many proposals. As passive investing became more popular and the asset management market more concentrated, this became quite a concerning issue.

  • Several terms were coined to describe this issue. Some call it asset manager capitalism, and popular is also the power of twelve. Financial Times even put together who exactly those twelve people might be.

  • Vanguard and other large fund managers are trying to address those concerns by having public policies describing how they are exercising their voting power. But as you can imagine, this is still a situation full of conflicts of interest.
  • Evidence shows that big asset managers usually vote together with management.

#2 Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley holds 8% of Twitter’s shares which makes it its second-largest shareholder.

Twitter largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Morgan Stanley owns 67 million Twitter shares, representing 67 million shareholder votes. The market value of Morgan Stanley’s stake in Twitter was $3 billion as of December 2021.

Morgan Stanley is a global investment bank that provides its clients with services when they need to raise capital or advise during mergers and acquisitions. Morgan Stanley also has wealth management and investment management, divisions.

In 2020, Morgan Stanley acquired E*Trade, a popular electronic trading platform.

#3 BlackRock

BlackRock holds 7% of Twitter’s shares which makes it its third-largest shareholder.

Twitter largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

BlackRock owns 52 million Twitter shares, representing 52 million shareholder votes. The market value of BlackRock’s stake in Twitter was $2 billion as of December 2021.

BlackRock, Inc. is the world’s largest asset manager, with assets under management of $10 trillion. BlackRock is not only an asset manager, but it also provides other asset managers and corporations with its Aladdin portfolio management software.

BlackRock is a publicly traded company, and its largest shareholders are its competitors, including BlackRock itself. Not directly but through their passive and active funds. The largest shareholder is Vanguard.

A similar situation is also true in the opposite direction because BlackRock is a significant shareholder in many of its publicly traded competitors and other large institutions, making the whole thing even more eyebrow-raising.

This circular ownership between Vanguard, BlackRock, and other large asset managers, amplifies the issue often raised about the power of these large asset managers over public companies since they usually belong to the most significant shareholders.

  • BlackRock and other large asset managers do not invest their own money, but they have significant voting power that, in most cases, is not passed through to the underlying investors. Therefore, BlackRock itself and its representatives have significant sway over decisions in those companies.

  • In the case of Blackrock, this influence is personified in the form of its CEO Larry Fink, who is a powerful figure with close ties in the FED and US government.

  • Adding to these concerns is evidence that BlackRock and other asset managers usually vote in favor of management proposals.

  • Recently, large asset managers started to be more sympathetic to different climate and environmental-related proposals and even supported activists that went against the management’s wishes. BlackRock was particularly aggressive in this change. Another proof of the power these companies have.

#4 Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey holds 2% of Twitter’s shares.

Twitter largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Jack Dorsey owns 18 million Twitter shares, representing 18 million shareholder votes. The market value of Jack Dorsey’s stake in Twitter was $1 billion as of December 2021.

Jack Dorsey is the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter and also co-founder and CEO of digital payments company Block Inc.

Jack was Twitter’s first CEO and stepped down from that position in 2008. Soo after that, he co-founded another company Block Inc (formerly Square Inc.), which is now an established player in many areas of the digital payments market.

He later returned to Twitter for his second term as CEO from 2015 until 2021. During that time, he was also CEO of Block (Square), which earned him the label of “absentee” CEO among some Twitter investors.

The fact that he was not fully focused on Twitter and the company’s poor performance was one of the reasons that led to an attempt by Elliot Management to outs him as Twitter CEO.

❔ Does Twitter Co-founder Evan Williams Still Owns Stake in Twitter?

Evan Williams is one of the Twitter co-founders and an early investor. He was, for some time, also Twitter’s CEO and was a member of Twitter’s board until he stepped down in February 2019. He is no longer active in the company.

It is unclear if Evan Williams still owns some stake in Twitter since he did not need to disclose his stake after he left the Twitter board in 2019. At that time, he owned 10.5 million shares, and his stake was approximately 1.4%.

Williams was the largest individual shareholder after Twitter’s IPO in 2013, with a 10.4% stake. Through the years, however, he kept selling shares.

  • In 2017 he still had 6% ownership when he announced a plan to sell up to 30% of his shares.

When Williams left the Twitter board in 2019, his stake was only 1.4%.

Williams was not required to disclose its stock sales after that, so his current stake in Twitter is unknown. Even if he kept some stake after leaving Twitter, he might have cashed out when Elon Musk acquired Twitter in 2022.

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