Elon Musk – who once joked that you could make a small fortune on social media by starting with a big one – has seen Twitter’s value more than halve since he bought it.
The billionaire took control of the company, now known as X, in a deal worth £36bn last year amid much fanfare.
But now it’s worth just £16bn, leaving Musk facing a £20bn loss in one of the most controversial takeovers in corporate history.
The drop in value seems to suggest he was right when he reinterpreted an old joke on Twitter in November, saying, “How do you make a small fortune on social media? Start with a big one.”
Musk sent a letter to employees this week offering them a stake in X worth $45 (£36) per share.
Losses: Billionaire Elon Musk (pictured) took control of Twitter, now known as X, to great fanfare last year in a deal worth £36bn
While he said the move would give employees shares “without the share price chaos and litigation burden of a listed company,” the company’s value is well below what he bought it for in October last year.
The move comes as the company continues to suffer from the global advertising slowdown and teething problems seen under Musk’s leadership.
Over the summer, Musk warned that the company would face difficulties due to the difficult climate.
He has also cut more than half of the workforce since taking office, leaving fewer than 2,000 employed at the company.
Musk, who also runs Tesla and satellite company Space X, said this was to save X from bankruptcy and increase efficiency.