Elon Musk challenges Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to a debate on bots

Centi-billionaire Elon Musk provoked Twitter and challenged the company’s CEO Parag Agrawal to a “public debate” about bogus accounts and spam in the midst of a contentious lawful battle around a $44 billion acquisition.

Musk filed a bid with the Securities and Trade to acquire Twitter again in April this 12 months. Soon after the companies agreed to transfer forward with a consider-private offer, Musk said he was terminating his acquisition, and accused Twitter of presenting phony numbers, such as in its SEC filings, pertaining to the amount of monetizable every day energetic end users, and the selection of spam and bot accounts on the social network.

Twitter then sued Musk in a Delaware chancery court docket to make sure the offer would go by as promised, and Musk submitted counterclaims and a countersuit there on July 29.

In a collection of tweets that Musk commenced submitting just before 1 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6, Musk interacted with a supporter who had summarized his accusations about Twitter such as that it was stonewalling him and offering him, “out-of-date knowledge,” and “a bogus facts set” when he requested the company for particulars about how it tabulates mDAU, and estimates for spam and bot accounts.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO wrote, “Very good summary of the issue. If Twitter simply just offers their approach of sampling 100 accounts and how they are confirmed to be authentic, the offer need to continue on authentic phrases. Even so, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially bogus, then it really should not.”

By just after 9 a.m. Saturday early morning, Musk started a Twitter poll inquiring his followers to vote on whether “[l]ess than 5% of Twitter every day users are pretend/spam.” Respondents to the informal poll could pick 1 of Musk’s offered solutions which go through possibly “Indeed” adopted by 3 robotic emoji, or “Lmaooo no.” (The slang abbreviation “lmao” stands for “laughing my a– off.)

Musk also wrote Saturday morning: “I hereby problem @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage. Enable him prove to the general public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!"

A source close to the company says a debate is not going to happen outside of a pending trial.

Attorneys for Musk did not respond to requests to comment on Saturday, and an attorney for Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s Saturday tweets.

Twitter’s attorneys have argued in court filings that Musk gave the company just twenty-four hours to accept his offer before he would present it directly to Twitter shareholders, and waived due diligence including a chance to seek more information on false or spam accounts.

They wrote in court filings, “Musk’s repeated mischaracterizations of the merger agreement cannot change its plain words.”

At an annual shareholder meeting for Tesla on Aug. 4, Musk was asked to speak about Twitter during a question-and-answer session that followed a proxy vote.

He said, drawing laughter from the audience in attendance, “I obviously have to be a little careful what I say about Twitter because there’s this lawsuit and stuff.” He confirmed that the only two publicly traded securities he owns are Tesla and Twitter.

And then he spoke as if he still wants to become the owner of the social networking company, a stark contrast to arguments made by Musk via his attorneys in legal filings in Delaware in which Musk argues he should not have to go through with the deal.

At the Tesla 2022 shareholders’ meeting, Musk said: “I think in the case of Twitter since I use it a lot, shoot myself in the foot a lot, you know, dig my grave, etc. I think it’s — I do understand the product quite well, so I think I’ve got a good sense of where to point the engineering team at Twitter to make it radically better.”

He added that Twitter would “help accelerate” a “pretty grand vision” he had to build a business he’d been thinking about since his earliest years as a tech entrepreneur, X.com or X Corporation.

“Obviously that could be started from scratch,” he said, “but I think Twitter would help accelerate that by three to five years. So it’s kind of like something I’ve thought would be quite useful for a long time. I know what to do. Don’t have to have Twitter for that but, like I said, it’s probably at least a three-year accelerant and I think it’s something that will be very useful to the world.”

Musk didn’t go into any further details at that meeting. However, he reportedly said during a town hall meeting with Twitter employees in June this year that he wanted to grow Twitter’s user base to a billion people and saw Twitter as a platform that could evolve into an app like China’s WeChat, a “super app,” that incorporates everything from messaging, video and social media, to mobile and point-of-sales payments, with a robust app ecosystem.

Unless they reach a settlement first, Twitter and Musk are headed for a five-day trial in Delaware that starts on Oct. 17. The judge ruling on the case is Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick.