Elon Musk in bad shape on the Twitter file
Elon Musk attends the opening ceremony of the new Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide, Germany, March 22, 2022. Patrick Pleul/Pool via REUTERS
Elon Musk and the Twitter group debated on Tuesday the legal elements to be provided during a preliminary hearing in the United States organized via Zoom, three weeks before an unprecedented trial on this contract for 44 billion USD.
Elon Musk’s legal advisers have again demanded access to more data on inauthentic or automated accounts and on calculating the number of “magnetizable and daily active users”.
The wealthiest man in the world claims, in his letter of July 8 announcing the breach of contract, that the proportion of spam is “well above” the 5% of accounts estimated by Twitter. But two data analysis companies hired by the businessman, Cyabra and Counteraction, have estimated this rate at 11% and 5.3%, respectively, said Brad Wilson, a lawyer for Twitter.
“None of these reports even remotely support what Mr. Musk told Twitter and the world in his July 8 letter,” Mr. Wilson asserted.
In early July, the San Francisco-based group launched a lawsuit against Elon Musk, to force him to honour the acquisition agreement signed in late April. According to the board of directors, the issue of false accounts is a pretext put forward by the multi-billionaire, who would have changed his mind after seeing the value of the companies fall in the stock market in recent months.
“Let’s get past the rhetoric and get to the heart of the matter,” exclaimed Judge Kathaleen McCormick, after more than three hours of argument in which both sides accused each other of obstruction or abuse of attorney-client privilege.
Elon Musk’s lawyers believe that Twitter is asking them for too much information about their dealings with Peiter Zatko, the social network’s former head of security turned whistleblower, who accused his former company this summer of hiding computer vulnerabilities and lying about its fight against fake accounts.
In early September, the judge allowed the defence to include these accusations in its arguments. Before this surprise intervention, the market was giving Twitter the advantage, as the law was a priori favourable to contract compliance. The presiding judge granted the company a speedy trial, while the multi-billionaire wanted to wait until next year and asked for astronomical amounts of data.
The trial is scheduled to take place from October 17 to 21 in a specialized court in the state of Delaware (east coast of the United States), shortly after the closed-door deposition of Elon Musk, which was postponed to October 6 and 7, according to the summons consulted by AFP.
The legal battle could result in “a settlement, payment of breach of contract fees, an obligation to buy out Twitter as planned and a myriad of other outcomes,” considers Dan Ives, of Wedbush Securities, in a note Tuesday, September 27. The analyst also believes “the parties may be negotiating behind the scenes.