In the latest twist to the saga of Elon Musk’s deal to purchase Twitter – from which he has attempted to withdraw – the mercurial billionaire said on Saturday that the transaction could still proceed as planned, as long as the social media company confirms certain details about the volume of “spam bots” on the platform, as the Associated Press reports.
Earlier this year, Musk filed paperwork announcing his decision to back out of the highly-publicized $44 billion acquisition of Twitter over questions about the actual size of the company’s user base, a move that drew a swift response from the company’s board, which declared its commitment “to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon” and indicated plans “to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement.”
True to that word, Twitter initiated litigation against Musk in Delaware Chancery Court, to which he subsequently filed counterclaims and a countersuit, and now there is a trial date in the case set for October.
Over the weekend, however, Musk stated that there was something Twitter could still do to ensure that the deal is concluded as initially conceived without the need for a court battle.
“If Twitter simply provides their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they’re confirmed to be real, the deal should proceed on original terms,” Musk wrote in a Saturday post on the platform.
“However, if it turns out that their [Securities and Exchange Commission] filings are materially false, then it should not,” the Tesla CEO added.
Never one to shy away from a provocative gesture, Musk later threw down the gauntlet by directly addressing Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal over the issue of bots, as CNBC noted.
“I hereby challenge @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage,” wrote Musk. “Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!”
Given Musk’s outspoken tendencies and the blockbuster nature of the deal, it seems likely that this will not be the last bit of public jousting ahead of the trial, which, unless settlement is achieved beforehand, is set to commence on Oct. 17 and is expected to last five days.