Elon Musk Threatens to Walk Away from Twitter Deal if the Social Media Company Does Not Provide Transparency on Bots and Spam Accounts


Posted originally on the conservative tree house on June 6, 2022 | Sundance

In a letter filed with the SEC [SEE HERE], Tesla CEO Elon Musk is threatening to walk away from the agreement to purchase the social media platform Twitter, if the company does not provide transparency on their internal analysis surrounding fake Twitter accounts.

The letter was sent to Twitter and filed with the SEC after Twitter seemingly refused to provide details about how they can verify the accurate number of active user accounts. There is a strong possibility the purchase is now less likely.  The full transcript of the letter is below:

[SEC Filing] – Dear Ms. Gadde: We are in receipt of correspondence sent on Twitter’s behalf dated June 1, 2022, responding to Mr. Musk’s request for the data and information described in my letters dated May 25, 2022 and May 31, 2022.

Mr. Musk does not agree with the characterizations in Twitter’s June 1 letter. Twitter has, in fact, refused to provide the information that Mr. Musk has repeatedly requested since May 9, 2022 to facilitate his evaluation of spam and fake accounts on the company’s platform.

Twitter’s latest offer to simply provide additional details regarding the company’s own testing methodologies, whether through written materials or verbal explanations, is tantamount to refusing Mr. Musk’s data requests. Twitter’s effort to characterize it otherwise is merely an attempt to obfuscate and confuse the issue. Mr. Musk has made it clear that he does not believe the company’s lax testing methodologies are adequate so he must conduct his own analysis. The data he has requested is necessary to do so.

As noted, under various terms of the merger agreement, Twitter is required to provide data and information that Mr. Musk requests in connection with the consummation of the transaction. Twitter’s obligations to provide Mr. Musk with information is not, as the company’s June 1 letter suggests, limited to a “very specific purpose: facilitating the closing of the transaction.” To the contrary, Mr. Musk is entitled to seek, and Twitter is obligated to provide, information and data for, inter alia, “any reasonable business purpose related to the consummation of the transaction” (Section 6.4).

Twitter must also provide reasonable cooperation in connection with Mr. Musk’s efforts to secure the debt financing necessary to consummate the transaction, including by providing information “reasonably requested” by Mr. Musk (Section 6.11). Mr. Musk’s requests for user data not only satisfies both criteria, but also meets even Twitter’s narrowed interpretation of the merger agreement, as this information is necessary to facilitate the closing of the transaction.

As Twitter’s prospective owner, Mr. Musk is clearly entitled to the requested data to enable him to prepare for transitioning Twitter’s business to his ownership and to facilitate his transaction financing. To do both, he must have a complete and accurate understanding of the very core of Twitter’s business model—its active user base. In any event, Mr. Musk is not required to explain his rationale for requesting the data, nor submit to the new conditions the company has attempted to impose on his contractual right to the requested data. At this point, Mr. Musk believes Twitter is transparently refusing to comply with its obligations under the merger agreement, which is causing further suspicion that the company is withholding the requested data due to concern for what Mr. Musk’s own analysis of that data will uncover.

If Twitter is confident in its publicized spam estimates, Mr. Musk does not understand the company’s reluctance to allow Mr. Musk to independently evaluate those estimates. As noted in our previous correspondence, Mr. Musk will of course comply with the restrictions provided under Section 6.4, including by ensuring that anyone reviewing the data is bound by a non-disclosure agreement, and Mr. Musk will not retain or otherwise use any competitively sensitive information if the transaction is not consummated.

Based on Twitter’s behavior to date, and the company’s latest correspondence in particular, Mr. Musk believes the company is actively resisting and thwarting his information rights (and the company’s corresponding obligations) under the merger agreement. This is a clear material breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement.” (LINK)

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has said the company has consistently estimated that fewer than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake. Twitter has disclosed its bot estimates to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for years. However, they also caution their estimate might be too low.

The Twitter sale agreement allows Elon Musk to get out of the deal if there is a “material adverse effect” caused by the company.  The agreement defines those terms as a change that negatively affects Twitter’s business or financial conditions.  Overall, this looks to be a legal issue that will be determined through litigation.

Twitter has a compelling interest against disclosure and transparency, if in the actual number of bots or fake accounts is substantially above their previous estimates.  Prior filings with the SEC claimed a particular standard, if that standard is inaccurate by design or flawed analysis, all prior SEC filings by Twitter could be deemed false and subject the company to fines and/or shareholder lawsuits.

It will be interesting to keep watching this play out…

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

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