Last month, Twitter offered Musk access to its “fire hose” of raw data on hundreds of millions of daily tweets, according to multiple reports at the time, though neither the company nor Musk confirmed that.
One of the chief reasons Musk gave for his interest in taking Twitter private was his belief he could add value to the business by getting rid of its spam bots — the same problem that he’s now citing as a reason to end the deal.
“This whole process has been bizarre,” said Christopher Bouzy, founder of research firm Bot Sentinel, which tracks fake Twitter accounts used for disinformation or harassment. “He knew about this problem. It’s odd that he would use bots and trolls and inauthentic accounts as a way of getting out of the deal.”
On the other hand, Bouzy said, the letter from Musk’s legal team makes some valid critiques of Twitter’s lack of transparency, including its apparent refusal to provide Musk with the same level of internal data it offers some of its big customers.
“It just seems as if they’re hiding something,” said Bouzy, who also believes the number of fake or spam Twitter accounts is higher than what the company has reported.
Musk’s lawyer also alleged that Twitter broke the agreement when it fired its revenue product leader and general manager of consumers and laid off a third of its talent-acquisition team.
The sale agreement, he wrote, required Twitter to “seek and obtain consent” if it deviated from conducting normal business. Twitter was required to “preserve substantially intact the material components of its current business organization,” the letter said.
Musk’s flirtation with buying Twitter appeared to begin in late March. That’s when Twitter said he contacted members of its board — including co-founder Jack Dorsey — and told them he was buying up shares of the company and interested in either joining the board, taking Twitter private or starting a competitor.
Then, on April 4, he revealed in a regulatory filing that he had became the company’s largest shareholder after acquiring a 9% stake worth about $3 billion.
At first, Twitter offered Musk a seat on its board. But six days later, Agrawal tweeted that Musk will not be joining the board after all. His bid to buy the company came together quickly after that.
Musk had agreed to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, inserting a “420” marijuana reference into his offer price. He sold roughly $8.5 billion worth of shares in Tesla to help fund the purchase, then strengthened his commitments of more than $7 billion from a diverse group of investors including Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
Inside Twitter, Musk’s offer was met with confusion and falling morale, especially after Musk publicly criticized one of Twitter’s top lawyers involved in content-moderation decisions.
As Twitter executives prepared for the deal to move forward, the company instituted a hiring freeze, halted discretionary spending and fired two top managers. The San Francisco company has also been laying off staff, most recently part of its talent acquisition team.