One of the year’s biggest tech stories so far came when Twitter “entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk”, for a deal that may end up being worth about $44 billion. Since then the action has been more-or-less non-stop, with the most recent developments being the ousting of a handful of executives, and Musk’s declaration that he would allow former US President Donald Trump to return to the platform.
Now Musk has suddenly announced that the deal is “temporarily on hold” (thanks, FT), tweeting out a recent Reuters article about the percentage of spam/bot accounts on the platform and saying that he needs details supporting Twitter’s claims that they represent less than 5% of users on the platform.
Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of usershttps://t.co/Y2t0QMuuynMay 13, 2022
Twitter shares have, unsurprisingly, taken a big dive in pre-market trading, and are currently around 20% down on where they ended yesterday. Naturally this could all change in an instant, but there must be a lot of shareholders currently experiencing what Sir Alex Ferguson once described as “squeaky bum time.”
Musk has in the past railed against spam accounts, and said a reduction in such activity would be one of the main goals if he took over the platform. The issue is whether Twitter really has under-stated the extent of the problem. Any Twitter user will have seen bots and spam accounts on there, but Twitter has consistently said that it represents a small proportion of users: should the reality be any different, this would of course impact any business strategy Musk may have.
There’s been no new filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission at the time of writing, just Musk’s public pronouncement. Some may speculate that he’s starting to look for a way out, and this deal certainly seems nowhere as clear-cut as it did a few weeks ago. Should Musk pull out of the deal, he will have to pay Twitter a ‘cancellation fee’ of $1 billion—which would probably make this ‘acquisition’ the most expensive piece of shitposting in history.