The rich, famous and in-between vie for Elon Musk’s attention

Months of private messages made public in the litigation surrounding the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer’s takeover of Twitter Inc. show the degree to which the entrepreneur’s ring of acquaintances and confidants curried favor from Mr. Musk.

The correspondences show his network egging on the takeover bid from which Mr. Musk is now attempting desperately to exit. There is little criticism of Mr. Musk’s aims, and much parroting of Mr. Musk’s public flogging of the social-media platform’s commitment to open speech.

It all adds up to a rare glimpse at the frenzy that the world’s richest man can provoke among the merely rich or famous.

The goals of those in contact with Mr. Musk appeared varied. Some present as supplicants hoping to invest money in Mr. Musk’s takeover, while others offered lengthy apologias for being unable or unwilling to put in cash. The CBS newscaster Gayle King, asking for a sit-down interview, told Mr. Musk that the Twitter acquisition was a “gangsta move.” One venture capitalist floated his son’s name for a job at the company after the deal closed. Podcaster Joe Rogan texted Mr. Musk: “I REALLY hope you get Twitter. If you do, we should throw a hell of a party.”

Most of all, the messages show that there is little that Mr. Musk’s friends and associates won’t say to be the billionaire’s biggest booster.

“Wtf is going on Elon…” texted venture capitalist Antonio Gracias in early March, in the wake of one of Mr. Musk’s frequent Twitter posts complaining about the platform’s content moderation. Mr. Gracias’ firm, Valor Equity Partners, is a frequent investor in Mr. Musk’s companies.

When Mr. Musk responded that he was perturbed over Twitter’s banning of Russian news sources, Mr. Gracias immediately responded, “You are totally right. I 100% agree with you,” Less than three minutes later, Mr. Gracias all but repeated the message. “I am 100% with you Elon. To the f—cking mattresses no matter what.”

Marc Merrill, co-founder of videogame developer Riot Games, texted Mr. Musk: “You are the hero Gotham needs.”

Those named in this story either didn’t respond to requests for comment or declined to comment. Mr. Musk’s legal team declined to comment.

The messages show Mr. Musk quickly correcting associates who fall out of line. Told that podcaster and investor Jason Calacanis is raising money from hundreds of relatively small investors to invest in the deal, Mr. Musk sent a text to Mr. Calacanis, “This makes it seem like I’m desperate.” He added: “Please stop.”

It took less than 30 seconds for Mr. Calacanis to all but apologize. “Only ever want to support you,” he wrote, later adding, typo included, “I’m ride or die brother—I’d jump on a grande for you.”

Mr. Musk responded with a heart emoji.

As ever, it’s difficult to determine the degree to which Mr. Musk takes seriously the advice of those around him. He is known to make decisions on a whim. The messages don’t include communications with his legal counsel, and there are only a few anodyne exchanges with Jared Birchall, his point-person on the Twitter deal.

The messages show a certain directness from Mr. Musk in response. Many friends—even titans in their own industries—received only curt, belated responses or none at all, according to the texts produced. On the day Mr. Musk’s Twitter stake was unveiled, hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin texted Mr. Musk, “Love it!!”

If Mr. Musk responded to Mr. Griffin, it didn’t appear in the legal productions.

When Will MacAskill, a high-profile philosophy professor, texted Mr. Musk to offer an introduction to cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried to help with Twitter deal, Mr. Musk waited 13 hours to respond and simply said: “Does he have a huge amount of money?”

Mr. Bankman-Fried didn’t wind up investing in the deal, filings show.

The messages show Mr. Musk raising outside money for the Twitter deal nearly ad hoc. He wound up with $1 billion from Larry Ellison after texting the Oracle founder, “Any interest in participating in the Twitter deal?” Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen offered $250 million in a Signal message that read “no additional work required.”

Mr. Musk expressed surprise when private-equity billionaire Orlando Bravo wouldn’t write a check.

“Strange that Orlando declined,” Mr. Musk wrote to his main investment banker. “Please let him know that I would like to talk and understand why he declined.”

The banker promised he would ask Mr. Bravo to give Mr. Musk a ring.

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