Can Twitter digest biting its own bullets?

By VARINDIA - 2022-05-18

Can Twitter digest biting its own bullets?

There is high level of drama being scripted by world’s richest person Elon Musk. It’s a little like the alternate reality Donald Trump creates to replace a less convenient actual reality.

 

Musk said on Tuesday his $44-billion offer would not move forward until Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) shows proof that spam bots account for less than 5% of its total users, hours after suggesting he could seek a lower price for the company.

 

In Musk’s case, he is so obsessed with using the red herring of spam bots on Twitter to get out of buying the company that he had the chutzpah today to ask, “Hello @SECGov, anyone home?” If the SEC investigates anything arising out of this deal, it seems safe to say it won’t be how many spam bots are on Twitter.

 

In fact, as The Wall Street Journal has reported, the SEC is investigating whether Musk breached disclosure rules in how he initially reported his investment, similar to an FTC investigation we previously reported. And based on details in a lengthy securities filing by Twitter today, those investigators have a lot to delve into. As per the analyst, Martin Peers.

 

Following the takeover, Twitter Inc. has locked changes to its source code to prevent disgruntled employees from making unauthorised changes to the platform.

 

Most notably, we learned that Musk contacted members of Twitter’s board to reveal he had bought more than 5% of Twitter nine days before disclosing it publicly on April 4. By the time he made that disclosure—when he categorized himself as a passive shareholder uninterested in “changing or influencing the control” of the company—he had told Twitter directors he might buy the company and had been invited to join the board! So yeah, the passive category seems…ah, not quite right.

 

Musk twitted, 20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 to 5 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher. This led to a sudden crash in the value of the Twitter stock.

 

Twitter claims less than 5% of their users are fake/spam/bots. It seems like that number is at least 4-5x more. The lowest estimate is ~20% of their users are fake/spam accounts. Elon, what do you think could be highest estimate as to how many fake accounts are present? 50%?

 

My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. However, Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. Musk claimed that Twitter pf lying in its SEC filings. This deal cannot move forward until he does.

 

You can't pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed," he said on Monday at the All-In Summit 2022 conference in Miami.

 

Experts says, it seems Musk is just trying to derail the deal entirely or is trying to chip away at Twitter’s share prices so he can wrangle a better deal. Both are possible and given the way Musk has been behaving, neither is surprising.

 

One question worth asking is whether Twitter should have disclosed Musk’s initial approach. After all, companies sometimes reveal publicly they’ve had approaches from potential buyers, often in the leadup to launching a sales process. Sure, you might ask, but who cares at this point? The question of how Musk disclosed his initial stake is far from the biggest issue right now. That would be how Musk is trying to extricate himself from the deal—or at least negotiate a lower price—by signaling his change of heart in a series of tweets and comments at private gatherings.

 

The fact is yet to announce , how many Fake accounts should not be allowed to post on Twitter. It should be possible to verify everyone in the world with either a Green Check or Orange Check in a minute or less, once in their life. Only the bots will be frustrated. I expect they will complain below quite vigorously.

 

Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal tweeted on Monday that internal estimates of spam accounts on the social media platform for the last four quarters were "well under 5%," responding to Musk's criticism of the company's handling of phony accounts.

 

Twitter's estimate, which has stayed the same since 2013, could not be reproduced externally given the need to use both public and private information to determine if an account is spam, Agrawal said.

 

Musk responded to Agrawal's defense of the methodology with a poop emoji. "So how do advertisers know what they're getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter," he wrote.

 

Maybe. But there also seems to be a very strong chance that doesn’t happen and the drama instead degenerate into a series of lawsuits—and government inquiries—that will go on for years and quickly lose the interest of almost everyone. Twitter deal ‘cannot move forward’ until there’s clarity on bot numbers.

 

Finally, if this doesn’t happen Elon Musk will have to pay Twitter a $1 billion termination fee if he doesn’t go through with his $44 billion acquisition of the social network, announced on Monday, per a new SEC filing. The filing, which details the terms of the agreement, indicates Twitter would have to pay the same fee under specific circumstances.

 

In the meantime, Twitter, its business and employees will be the losers.


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