Musk’s court filing accuses Twitter of dragging its feet on giving him the data he wanted on bots and then asking for “warp speed” when it came to setting a trial date. Twitter argued in its lawsuit that Musk has been acting in bad faith and every day that the uncertainty around the acquisition hangs over them, the more damage is done to the company. The tone of Musk’s response is similarly fiery, offering a preview of the heated legal wrangling that is to come. The billionaire had already tweeted about Twitter’s lawsuit, responding on Wednesday to a tweet about how it was ironic that the company’s management was accusing Musk of acting in bad faith but still wanted him to own the company with two laughing emoji.
Twitter’s position is that the case is straightforward: Musk agreed to buy it, and now he’s backing out of his commitments after his financial position weakened as part of a global sell-off in tech stocks. Musk asserts that the case should revolve around Twitter’s statements about how many bots it thinks are on its platform, which he believes are incorrect, though he hasn’t provided evidence of that claim.
“The core dispute over false and spam accounts is fundamental to Twitter’s value,” Musk’s lawyers wrote in the filing. “It is also extremely fact and expert intensive, requiring substantial time for discovery.”
Musk’s filing details a May 6 meeting he had with Twitter’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer where they discussed how the company calculates its estimates for how many bots on the platform. The process, which Musk says is based on human reviewers looking at a small percentage of accounts, was much less rigorous than he had expected, the filing says.
“Musk was stunned to discover that Twitter’s process for identifying spam accounts relied on human reviewers,” according to the filing. “Musk quickly understood that management did not have a handle on the bot and spam issue.”
That’s when Musk began sending more requests for user data so that he could run his own analysis, but Twitter was slow in giving him that data and he ultimately concluded he would not get everything he needed to run his analysis, leading him to say he was terminating the deal.
In its complaint, Twitter alleges Musk wasn’t actually that interested in understanding the bot issue and instead sent escalating requests to construct a pretext that the company wasn’t giving him the data he needed.
Twitter’s per-share price rose 4 percent Friday to $37.74. That’s still significantly below the $54.20 Musk had initially agreed to pay, showing the Wall Street doesn’t believe the deal will close according to the original agreement.
The court will hold a hearing Tuesday to address Twitter’s request for an expedited trial.