Elon Musk suggests cutting Twitter offer by proportion of bots and calls its lack of explanation 'very suspicious'

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer media award in Berlin on Dec. 1, 2020.
Elon Musk has put his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on hold pending confirmation on the number of bots using the platform.AP
  • Musk suggested cutting $44 billion offer for Twitter based on the number of bots on the platform.

  • He says the share of fake accounts is about 25% of users, rather than Twitter's 5% estimate.

  • Musk called Twitter's lack of explanation over the bot figure "very suspicious."

Elon Musk has added to uncertainty over his $44 billion offer for Twitter by saying the price should be cut by the proportion of fake accounts on the platform and calling Twitter's lack of explanation over its estimates "very suspicious."

Musk agreed Saturday with conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong who tweeted: "If 25% of the users are bots then the Twitter acquisition deal should cost 25% less."

"Absolutely," Musk replied.

Musk put his deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share "on hold" until the platform could prove that only 5% of users are bots.

Speaking on the "All-In" podcast Monday, he said the figure was likely to be "four or five times" higher.

A 25% reduction would reduce the value of the offer to $33 billion. That sum is far closer to Twitter's market value of just under $30 billion. Shares closed on Friday in New York at $38.29.

Musk earlier questioned Twitter's lack of explanation over the 5% estimate, saying it had no incentive to tackle fake accounts.

"I'm worried that Twitter has a disincentive to reduce spam, as it reduces perceived daily users," Musk said.

Replying to a user who asked if Twitter had been in contact, Musk replied: "No, they still refuse to explain how they calculate that 5% of daily users are fake/spam! Very suspicious."

It marks the latest escalation in rhetoric in a turbulent acquisition process, and prompted Musk to remind investors of his priorities toward his other companies Tesla and SpaceX.

Musk had previously suggested taking a sample of 100 users to determine the number of bots on the platform, allegedly breaking a NDA with Twitter. He replied to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal's explanation as to why this wasn't possible with a poop emoji.

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