Tulane Law Prof. Ann Lipton has become one of the most prominent expert voices in the ongoing saga between Tesla CEO and mercurial entrepreneur Elon Musk and the social media giant, Twitter.
Lipton has made the rounds all summer cementing herself as the leading legal expert in the Musk-Twitter saga, appearing in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNBC, CNN, NPR among many others --- as well as one notable half-page interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine, one of Germany’s leading newspapers. And she has blogged, a lot -- here, here and here.
“This dispute is definitely more colorful than we normally see because of the players involved, but it’s not truly legally unusual, so in many ways it’s an ideal classroom teaching tool for my students,” said Lipton.
America – and the world – can’t stop watching. The story of the often-erratic Musk jousting with Twitter’s board and its CEO Jack Dorsey is the stuff of corporate law melodrama, events that usually happen behind a closed boardroom door. In April, when Twitter and Musk announced – after his fiery criticism of the social media platform – that he would buy it for $44 billion, well above its then-current market price, it turned the Twitterverse on its head. On the same day of the announcement, Musk was quoted saying, "I'm not sure I'll actually be able to acquire it." And so began the oddest buyout in recent history.
Since then, it’s been a legal must-read unfolding one Tweet at a time, watched and parsed by millions, many critical of the CEO who has long been a critic of the platform and whose comments have implied he’d love Twitter to be mostly unfiltered – a wild, wild west of opinions and ideas with little oversight for bad actors.
Lipton has watched, researched and dissected the company and Musk’s moves, often on her own Twitter feed, explaining Delaware Court hearings, pleadings, and SEC filings. She’s compared the deal to others (for context and precedent and relevant actions) all the while answering questions from colleagues and the Twitterati.
When the deal was announced in April, Lipton told Time skeptically that Twitter had “enormous discretion” to act in the best interest of shareholders. A week ago, she told CNBC Twitter might just have a good case against Musk for bailing on the deal. From here, she’s likely to continue to be the voice of legal reason and expertise as the severed deal heads to court.
Lipton, the Michael Fleischman Associate Professor in Business Law & Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean for Faculty Research at Tulane Law, is an experienced securities and corporate litigator who has handled class actions involving some of the world’s largest companies before she joined the Tulane Law faculty in 2015. Her area of expertise is corporate governance and the relationship between corporations and investors.
At Tulane, she is the founder and organizer of the annual Tulane Securities and Corporate Law Roundtable, now in its seventh year. The roundtable, coordinated with the larger Tulane Corporate Law Institute held each spring, draws about a dozen of the country’s top corporate and securities scholars to campus for a daylong discussion of emerging scholarship examining corporate governance and the securities markets.
Lipton is one of two former U.S. Supreme Court clerks at Tulane Law School; she clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. She also clerked for 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edward Becker before handling securities and corporate litigation at the trial and appellate levels at law firms in New York City. She also worked briefly for the Securities and Exchange Commission.