Elon Musk initially planned on buying Twitter as a way of “unlocking value” at the company and pushing it back toward being permissive of free speech rather than cracking down on anything and everything that comes from the right and goes against the “current thing” narrative on everything from “deadnaming” transgenders to questioning the efficacy of the jabs.
But, after digging into how many supposed Twitter users might actually be bots, Musk started backing out of the ~$40 billion deal, particularly once Twitter proved hesitant to hand over information on how it calculated the “less than 5% of accounts are spam bots” figure that are cited in its SEC documents.
And so Twitter and Musk are now embroiled in a lawsuit, with Twitter demanding Musk either buy the company for the original figure offered or pay the $1 billion breakup fee and Musk claiming that because the bot number is wrong and Twitter didn’t provide the requisite verification of the 5% number that he doesn’t have to pay the breakup fee.
Though the case likely still has a long way to go, Musk just won an important fight in one of the opening legal battles of what will surely be a long legal campaign, with a judge ruling that Twitter has to hand over information regarding Twitter’s former head of consumer product, Kayvon Beykpour.
That’s important because Musk’s lawyers described Beykpour as being “most intimately involved with” Twitter’s so-far hidden and mysterious process of calculating spam account numbers and analyzing the spam bot account problem.
This round of the legal fight was far from a total win for Musk: of the 22 individuals his lawyers wanted access to, Beykpour was the only one the judge granted them access to.
But, still, it’s an important win that could help Musk either verify the bot number or prove that Twitter has been committing fraud in pushing the 5% number, with either outcome being a potential win for Musk.
That’s because Musk would apparently still be interesting in buying the social media giant if it can prove the bot number, as Techspot reported, saying:
Musk recently said he would complete the acquisition of Twitter at the original $44 billion price if it showed precisely how it counts the number of fake accounts on the platform. He even challenged Agrawal to a debate over the matter.
So, if Beykpour is as “intimately involved” with the bot problem as Musk’s lawyers claimed and he can shed light on whether Twitter’s assertions about the spam bot numbers are true or not, perhaps Musk will either end up vindicated or being more comfortable buying Twitter for the proffered price.
Time will tell, but it’s an important early victory for Musk as he battles with the social media giant over the bot account problem and attempts to find out what the real number is before being pushed into a multi-billion dollar purchase or billion dollar breakup fee.