Billionaire Elon Musk has fired up Twitter and challenged the company’s CEO Parag Agrawal to a “public debate” about fake accounts and spam amid a contentious legal battle over the $44 billion acquisition.
Musk filed an offer with the Securities and Exchange to acquire Twitter back in April of this year. After the companies agreed to go private, Musk said he was ending his acquisition, and accused Twitter of presenting false numbers, including in its SEC filings, about the number of -daily active monetized users, and the number of monetized active users. spam and bot accounts on the social network.
Twitter then sued Musk in chancery court in Delaware to ensure the deal went ahead as promised, and Musk filed counterclaims and a countersuit there on July 29.
In a series of tweets that Musk began posting just before 1 a.m. on Saturday, August 6, Musk interact with fans which summarized his allegations about Twitter including that it was stonewalling him and giving him “outdated data,” and a “fake dataset” when he asked the company for data about how it does mDAU tables, and estimates for spam and bot accounts.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX wrote“Good summary of the problem. If Twitter provides its sampling method of 100 accounts and how they are verified as genuine, the deal should continue on original terms. However, if their SEC filings turn out to be false that relevant, therefore should not.”
By just after 9 am on Saturday morning, Musk a Twitter poll has started asking his fans to vote on “[l]5% of daily Twitter users are fake/spam.” Respondents to the informal poll could choose one of Musk’s provided answers that read “Yes” followed by three robot emojis, or “Lmaooo no.” ( The slang abbreviation “lmao” stands for “my laugh.)
A source close to the company says a debate is not going to happen outside of a pending trial.
Musk’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment Saturday, and an attorney for Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s Saturday tweets.
Twitter attorneys argued in court filings that Musk only gave the company twenty-four hours to accept his offer before presenting it directly to Twitter shareholders, and that they waived due diligence, including an opportunity to seek more information on fake accounts. or spam.
They wrote in court filings, “Musk’s repeated misdirection on the merger agreement cannot change his usual words.”
At Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting on August 4, Musk was asked to talk about Twitter during a question-and-answer session followed by a proxy vote.
He said, drawing laughter from the audience in attendance, “Obviously I have to be a little careful about what I say about Twitter because there’s this law and stuff.” He confirmed that Tesla and Twitter are the only two publicly traded securities.
And then he spoke as if he still wants to own the social networking company, a stark contrast to arguments Musk has made through his attorneys in legal filings in Delaware in which Musk argues he shouldn’t have to go through with the deal.
At Tesla’s 2022 shareholder meeting, Musk said: “I think in the case of Twitter since I use it a lot, I shoot myself in the foot a lot, you know, dig my grave, etc. I think that – I understand the product really well, so I think I have a good sense of where to focus the engineering team on Twitter to make it better.”
He added that Twitter would help accelerate a “great vision” he had to build a business he had been thinking about since he was a tech entrepreneur, X.com or X Corporation.
“Obviously that could be started from scratch,” he said, “but I think Twitter would help accelerate that by three to five years. So it’s kind of like something that I thought would for the world.”
Musk did not add any further details at that meeting. However, he said during a town hall meeting with Twitter employees in June this year that he wanted to grow Twitter’s user base to one billion people and saw Twitter as a platform that could evolve into an app like with China’s WeChat, a “super app,” that includes everything from messaging, video and social media, to mobile payments and point of sale, with a robust app ecosystem.
If they don’t reach a settlement first, Twitter and Musk are headed for a five-day trial in Delaware that starts on October 17. Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is the judge presiding over the case.