He would propose a duel at dawn that we would barely bat an eyelid. While Twitter has officially filed its complaint against him and the legal battle seems to be against him, Elon Musk is proposing a public debate. On his Twitter account (ironically), the earthy billionaire challenges the platform’s boss, Parag Agrawal, to publicly debate the thorny issue of fake accounts. A flick sent two days after having filed in court his arguments against the company and in which he accuses it of “fraud”.
“If Twitter simply provides its method of sampling 100 accounts and how they turned out to be real, the deal should continue on the original terms”, he tweets. Otherwise, however, “that may not be the case”. In his usual insolence, the boss of Tesla also posted a poll in which he asks his approximately 100 million followers if “less than 5% of daily Twitter users are fake/spam”, i.e. the estimate repeated several times by the platform and which the entrepreneur criticizes. Result: more than 65% (out of 760,000 votes) of subscribers answered in the negative.
Why is Musk so obsessed with this topic? No coincidence: this is the argument at the heart of its defense strategy against Twitter. As a reminder, the boss of Tesla had signed a $ 44 billion agreement to buy the social network before unilaterally breaking the contract in early July, citing the proportion of automated accounts and spam as grounds for termination. The figure, higher than the first estimates, would affect the viability of the company according to him.
A ridiculous justification for the lawyers of the platform who, a month ago, even called it a “model of hypocrisy”. In mid-July, the social network filed a complaint with the Delaware Court of Chancery to force the founder of SpaceX to buy the network under the agreed terms. Determined to dodge the billions in damages he may have to pay in the event of defeat, Elon Musk has also filed a “confidential” complaint before this same court. His arguments were revealed on Thursday.
In a 165-page document, his lawyers accuse Twitter of having “masked the truth”, claiming 238 million monetizable daily users, but there are actually 65 million less. Otherwise, “the majority of advertisements” would only be broadcast “with less than 16 million users, a fraction” what Twitter claims.
The complaint, which qualifies “misrepresentations” of the social network of “sins”affirm that “Twitter frantically blocked information from circulating in a desperate attempt to prevent (Elon Musk) from discovering the fraud”. He asks the court to release him from the agreement and order Twitter to pay him damages.
Response from Twitter: Musk would mostly seek to“escape” of a contract that he “finds more interesting since the stock market has gone down”. Between the general decline in the stock market in recent months, the drop in social media advertising revenue linked to the economic situation and public criticism from Elon Musk, Twitter’s stock had collapsed to around $32 on July 11. It was worth Friday at the close of 42.52 dollars, up 3.56%. The title of Tesla lost 6.63% to 864.51 dollars.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has not yet responded to the “challenge” launched by Elon Musk. Whether there is a public debate or not, the two parties will in any case have to face each other before the Delaware Court of Chancery from October 17. And this for 5 days. Beforehand, the shareholders of Twitter will meet on September 13 to authorize or not this acquisition, which would represent a substantial capital gain.