Elon Musk is formally trying to end his bid to buy Twitter. After hinting heavily that he no longer wanted the company in tweets attacking Twitter over its bot calculations and an ominous story this week reflecting his thinking in The Washington Post, Musk’s legal team is taking steps to terminate his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.
“Mr. Musk is terminating the Merger Agreement because Twitter is in material breach of multiple provisions of that Agreement, appears to have made false and misleading representations upon which Mr. Musk relied when entering into the Merger Agreement, and is likely to suffer a Company Material Adverse Effect,” Musk’s lawyers wrote in a letter to Twitter’s Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde.
Musk points to his unsubstantiated claims that Twitter is misleading investors and users about the number of fake accounts on its platform, which the company has long estimated to be under 5 percent. Musk had no apparent qualms with Twitter’s bot count prior to inking the deal and actually mentioned that he planned to take on the platform’s spam problem as the company’s new owner. His argument is essentially that Twitter misrepresented its monetizable daily active user counts and in doing so broke the terms of the deal:
“Twitter is in breach of the Merger Agreement because the Merger Agreement appears to contain materially inaccurate representations. Specifically, in the Merger Agreement, Twitter represented that no documents that Twitter filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission since January 1, 2022, included any “untrue statement of a material fact” (Section 4.6(a)). Twitter has repeatedly made statements in such filings regarding the portion of its mDAUs that are false or spam, including statements that: “We have performed an internal review of a sample of accounts and estimate that the average of false or spam accounts during the first quarter of 2022 represented fewer than 5% of our mDAU during the quarter,” and “After we determine an account is spam, malicious automation, or fake, we stop counting it in our mDAU, or other related metrics.” Mr. Musk relied on this representation in the Merger Agreement (and Twitter’s numerous public statements regarding false and spam accounts in its publicly filed SEC documents) when agreeing to enter into the Merger Agreement. Mr. Musk has the right to seek rescission of the Merger Agreement in the event these material representations are determined to be false.
Bret Taylor, the chairman of Twitter’s board of directors, responded to Musk’s letter Friday by doubling down on the company’s intentions to see the deal through. “The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement,” Taylor wrote. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal retweeted Taylor’s tweet.
Agrawal has previously pushed back on Musk’s accusation that Twitter is undercounting fake accounts, describing the company’s methodology, which generalizes data for the whole platform based on a random sampling of accounts. “We don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share),” Agrawal tweeted in May. “Externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day.”
It’s far from apparent that Musk’s complaints about Twitter’s bot counts will be deemed a valid enough reason to terminate the deal, particularly given that Twitter is keen to see it through. For better or worse, we’re going to hear a lot more about that argument in the coming days as Musk and Twitter begin to hash out the messy, months-long ordeal in court.
The story is developing…
This article was originally published on TechCrunch.com. Read More on their website.