Elon Musk has filed to exit his deal to purchase Twitter.
Some key quotes from the filing (emphasis ours):
Mr. Musk is terminating the Merger Agreement because Twitter is in material breach of multiple provisions of that Agreement, appears to have made false and misleading representations upon which Mr. Musk relied when entering into the Merger Agreement, and is likely to suffer a Company Material Adverse Effect (as that term is defined in the Merger Agreement).
For nearly two months, Mr. Musk has sought the data and information necessary to “make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform”…
This information appears to largely hinge on Twitter’s disclosure of mDAU (global monetizable daily active users), as well as bot presence on the platform:
Notwithstanding these repeated requests over the past two months, Twitter has still failed to provide much of the data and information responsive to Mr. Musk’s repeated requests, including, but not limited to:
1. Information related to Twitter’s process for auditing the inclusion of spam and fake accounts in mDAU…
2. Information related to Twitter’s process for identifying and suspending spam and fake accounts…
3. Daily measures of mDAU for the past eight (8) quarters…
4. Board materials related to Twitter’s mDAU calculations…
5. Materials related to Twitter’s financial condition…
It appears Twitter has had chances to rectify the situation by providing Musk with the information he has requested (the filing details these requests), but the time period to provide this information in a way satisfactory to Musk has expired, thus allowing Musk to exit the agreement.
As Twitter has been on notice of its breach since at least June 6, 2022, any cure period afforded to Twitter under the Merger Agreement has now lapsed. Accordingly, Mr. Musk hereby exercises X Holdings I, Inc.’s right to terminate the Merger Agreement and abandon the transaction contemplated thereby, and this letter constitutes formal notice of X Holding I, Inc.’s termination of the Merger Agreement pursuant to Section 8.1(d)(i) thereof.
Musk continues to hammer home the “fake accounts” concern:
Although Twitter has not yet provided complete information to Mr. Musk that would enable him to do a complete and comprehensive review of spam and fake accounts on Twitter’s platform, he has been able to partially and preliminarily analyze the accuracy of Twitter’s disclosure regarding its mDAU. While this analysis remains ongoing, all indications suggest that several of Twitter’s public disclosures regarding its mDAUs are either false or materially misleading.
First, although Twitter has consistently represented in securities filings that “fewer than 5%” of its mDAU are false or spam accounts, based on the information provided by Twitter to date, it appears that Twitter is dramatically understating the proportion of spam and false accounts represented in its mDAU count. Preliminary analysis by Mr. Musk’s advisors of the information provided by Twitter to date causes Mr. Musk to strongly believe that the proportion of false and spam accounts included in the reported mDAU count is wildly higher than 5%.
Second, Twitter’s disclosure that it ceases to count fake or spam users in its mDAU when it determines that those users are fake appears to be false. Instead, we understand, based on Twitter’s representations during a June 30, 2022 call with us, that Twitter includes accounts that have been suspended—and thus are known to be fake or spam—in its quarterly mDAU count even when it is aware that the suspended accounts were included in mDAU for that quarter. *
Last, Twitter has represented that it is “continually seeking to improve our ability to estimate the total number of spam accounts and eliminate them from the calculation of our mDAU…” But, Twitter’s process for calculating its mDAU, and the percentage of mDAU comprised of non-monetizable spam accounts, appears to be arbitrary and ad hoc. Disclosing that Twitter has a reasoned process for calculating mDAU when the opposite is true would be false and misleading.
Musk also calls out recent personnel changes at Twitter:
Finally, Twitter also did not comply with its obligations under Section 6.1 of the Merger Agreement to seek and obtain consent before deviating from its obligation to conduct its business in the ordinary course and “preserve substantially intact the material components of its current business organization.” Twitter’s conduct in firing two key, high-ranking employees, its Revenue Product Lead and the General Manager of Consumer, as well as announcing on July 7 that it was laying off a third of its talent acquisition team, implicates the ordinary course provision. Twitter has also instituted a general hiring freeze which extends even to reconsideration of outstanding job offers. Moreover, three executives have resigned from Twitter since the Merger Agreement was signed: the Head of Data Science, the Vice President of Twitter Service, and a Vice President of Product Management for Health, Conversation, and Growth. The Company has not received Parent’s consent for changes in the conduct of its business, including for the specific changes listed above. The Company’s actions therefore constitute a material breach of Section 6.1 of the Merger Agreement.
UPDATE: Twitter chairman Bret Taylor says the board will pursue legal action: