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Elon Musk Could Save Twitter for the Same Reason Arizona Iced Tea Still Costs 99 Cents

Despite inflation and tightening profit margins, Don Vultaggio, co-founder of the family-owned Arizona Beverage Company, has kept the suggested retail price of his popular iced tea product at 99 cents for 30 years.

SO WHAT

For some billionaires, like Vultaggio and Elon Musk, business isn’t always just about the money.

WHAT HAPPENED

The “main force holding AriZona [iced tea] inflation at bay is the sheer stubbornness of Vultaggio, and his attachment to the way in which the 99-cent can effectively markets itself,” Axios reported Thursday.

Because Vultaggio owns and controls the Arizona Beverage Company, he has no fiduciary duty to maximize profits or increase value for shareholders.

  • John Ferolito, a co-founder of the company, tried for years to sell his stake to a multinational giant like Nestle or Coca-Cola.
  • But Vultaggio, unwilling to share control of the company with a corporate behemoth, fought Ferolito and eventually won.
  • Ferolito was forced to sell his stake back to Arizona Beverage Company for much less than the multinationals were offering.

“On one occasion a president of a company came to tell me they wanted to buy me out and I said I’m not for sale,” Vultaggio recalled during a 2020 Reddit AMA.

  • “He said ‘well then I’ll just have to rip your heart out’ and I said ‘you better bring some of your friends because I’m going to put up a fight’ and that was over a decade ago.”
  • “My goal was to bring quality and quantity to the masses for an affordable price,” Vultaggio explained, adding that the business is proudly “family-owned and operated” and he plans “to keep it that way.”

COMMON GOOD CAPITALISM?

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has repeatedly signaled that his ongoing attempt to takeover Twitter is similarly not primarily about money.

  • In a livestreamed TED Talk Thursday, Musk said he wants to buy the company for $43 billion because he believes in the importance of free speech.
  • “This is just my strong, intuitive sense that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” Musk said. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”

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