Twitter has accepted Musk’s takeover bid, as the billionaire insists his social media ambitions are about free speech.

Twitter’s 11 board members have accepted Elon Musk’s roughly $44 billion takeover bid, the company announced on Monday afternoon. In a massive shake-up for the social media platform, the tech billionaire, who previously held a 9% stake in Twitter, acquired all of its remaining shares for $54.20 each. Twitter is now set to become a privately held company.

“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” said Twitter’s independent board chairman Bret Taylor in a Monday announcement. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.” Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal noted that he is “deeply proud” of the company’s employees and said their work “impacts the entire world” and “has never been more important.”

In a statement of his own, Musk emphasized his commitment to “free speech,” calling it “the bedrock of a functioning democracy” while noting

that “Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” He vowed to make Twitter “better than ever.”

Until recently, a Musk takeover of Twitter was hardly a sure thing, as it was not apparent if Twitter was on board or if Musk could even feasibly finance the bid. (On April 14, he noted that he was “not sure that I will actually be able to acquire” the social media company.) But last week, Musk, the CEO of Tesla and the world’s richest man, said he had arranged $46.5 billion in funding for the proposal.

The Monday deal marks the conclusion of a turbulent saga that began when Musk announced in early April that he had become Twitter’s largest shareholder. In a surprise move, Musk opened the door to a hostile takeover of Twitter by rejecting an invitation to become one of its board members. (In a since-deleted tweet, he also publicly asked his followers if the company’s San Francisco headquarters should be turned into a homeless shelter, and also previously asked his followers if they thought Twitter is “dying.”)

Following Musk’s subsequent offer to purchase the company, Twitter’s board members put in place a “poison pill” strategy to potentially deter Musk from snatching up additional shares. However, the two sides returned to the bargaining table last week after Musk noted in a regulatory filing, according to NPR, that he has $21 billion in cash to spend on the offer, while Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and other banks have pledged to lend the remaining $25.5 billion.

Twitter’s board then convened on Sunday morning to seriously consider the offer, according to Reuters. Musk also privately met with a number of Twitter shareholders on Friday to make the case for his offer and ownership plan.

Musk, an avid Twitter user who, in the past, has challenged Twitter’s decision to ban Donald Trump from using its platform, has insisted that his social media ambitions are centered around his support for “free speech” online. “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk wrote in his Twitter offer letter. “However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”

On Monday afternoon, Musk appeared to address some users’ concerns about the news: “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter because that is what free speech means,” he tweeted.