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The Musk Twitter saga hits an impasse

Billionaire Elon Musk is unconvinced by claims that less than 5% of Twitter users are fake or spam and seems set to abandon his acquisition bid.

Musk first voiced his concern, via Twitter of course, late last week.

It’s not clear what prompted these concerns at this late stage. Presumably Musk has received some intelligence suggesting a larger proportion of Twitter users are fake or spam, which caused him to reappraise the deal. The social media business model consists of selling advertisers access to its users, but if a lot of those are not economically viable – i.e. there’s no chance of flogging anything to them – then the offering is weakened.

In a clear sign of the times, the subsequent dialogue between Musk and Twitter is also being conducted in public. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal posted a thread about spam, in an apparently failed attempt to address Musk’s concerns.

It’s so hard to guess what is really going on here. Should we just take Musk at face value or is this all part of an underlying cunning plan? Is he just setting the scene to lower his bid or has he gone off the whole idea and is now looking for a way to bail out while saving face and money?

On one level all this nit-picking over the underlying financials would appear to jar with Musk’s stated reason for buying Twitter, which is to improve the digital public square. If instead he means it as a simple financial investment then why not say so? Then again, if Twitter is intrinsically less valuable as a going concern than it would have us believe, Musk is entitled to rethink his offer. Either way, anyone excited by the prospect of a Musk-owned Twitter will be hoping they resolved their differences.

 

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