Elon Musk warned that there are a number of issues to resolve before it can complete its $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, including obtaining a accurate measure of bots on the platform of social networks and the financing of the agreement.
The proportion of fake accounts, spam and bots on the service “remains a very important issue,” Musk said in an interview with Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha. “And of course there is the question of whether the debt part of the round will come together and then the shareholders will vote for it.”
Musk, after striking a deal to acquire Twitter for $54.20 a share in April, has repeatedly disputed his revelations about fake accounts, fueling speculation that he wants to lower the price of the deal or pull out altogether. His lawyer has said that Twitter you must cooperate by providing the requested data so that Musk can secure the debt financing needed to consummate the deal.
The banks have pledged to provide $13 billion of debt financing to back the Musk takeover. Lenders include Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Barclays.
The 50-year-old businessman made it clear during the forum that is thinking about how to improve the service. He said he would take responsibility for “driving product” on Twitter, as he does at Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies, though he doesn’t necessarily plan to be CEO.
“Ideally, I’d like to have like 80 percent of North America and maybe, I don’t know, half the world or something ultimately on Twitter one way or another,” he said. “And that means it has to be something that draws people in. Obviously it can’t be a place where they feel uncomfortable or harassed or they just won’t use it.”
Musk stated that does not anticipate that its business operations in China will cause problems if you take control of Twitter. The Tesla CEO, also the world’s richest person, counts China as a key production base and growing consumer market for his electric vehicles.
Twitter is officially banned in Chinabut the country uses it to spread its message abroad, sometimes with the help of its own armies of bot. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos alluded to the potential conflicts in a Tweet shortly after the Twitter acquisition announcement, asking, “Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of influence over the town square?”
Speaking less enthusiastically than he adopts when discussing his adventures with Tesla or humanoid robots, Musk on Tuesday refused to say convincingly that the Twitter deal is going through. He has repeatedly raised the bot problem as an unresolved issue, suggesting that keeps the door open for this deal to fall apart.
Musk has said that wanted to put the acquisition “on hold” while investigating how many of Twitter’s users are real people, and later filed a formal letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission telling Twitter executives it could back out of the deal if the company didn’t do more to prove the size of its user base. Twitter responded by giving Musk access to public tweets, though it’s unclear if that information is actually useful in calculating the number of bots.
Twitter shares closed Friday at $37.78, 30 percent less than the proposed acquisition price.
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Elon Musk insists: ‘bots are a problem in the acquisition of Twitter’