Elon Musk told a judge Friday that he needs until next year to respond to Twitter’s “meritless” claims that the mogul tried to scuttle the $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform.
Musk’s attorneys accused Twitter of fudging the figures over fake accounts and want the trial pushed back until at least Feb. 13, 2023, to gather information over the disputed bot data, according to court documents filed with the Delaware court Friday evening.
“The core dispute over false and spam accounts is fundamental to Twitter’s value,” Musk’s lawyers wrote in the 14-page filing. “It is also extremely fact and expert intensive, requiring substantial time for discovery.”
Musk, who first agreed to buy the site for $44 billion in April, pulled out of the deal last week after repeatedly claiming Twitter may be lying about what percentage of its users are bots — a move that Twitter’s lawyers blasted in their suit filed Wednesday as a “bad faith” attempt to walk away from the agreement.
Twitter is seeking an unusually short four-day Delaware Court of Chancery trial starting in September, which some observers have interpreted as a show of confidence in its legal case.
Musk’s lawyers called Twitter’s request an unjustifiable “bid for extreme expedition,” and accused the company of “a two-month treasure hunt of delays, technical bottlenecks, evasive answers, and, ultimately, refusals,”
The two sides are scheduled to meet for a hearing in front of Judge Kathaleen St. McCormick on Tuesday.
Musk’s legal filing blamed Twitter for not coming clean about its spam accounts until April 28 — three days after the merger agreement was signed.
On April 28, Twitter admitted in a public filing with the SEC that in March 2019 it launched a feature that allowed people to link multiple separate accounts together in order to conveniently switch between accounts. An error was made at that time, causing all linked accounts to be counted as users, which resulted in an overstatement of roughly 1%, the filing said.
Musk agreed to buy Twitter without conducting due diligence but the tech titan claims because the company said it misstated the number of fake accounts he has a right to now do full due diligence on bots.
“In a May 6 meeting with Twitter executives, Musk was flabbergasted to learn just how meager Twitter’s process was,” Musk’s lawyers wrote in the filing. “Human reviewers randomly sampled 100 accounts per day (less than 0.00005% of daily users) and applied unidentified standards to somehow conclude every quarter for nearly three years that fewer than 5% of Twitter users were false or spam. That’s it. No automation, no AI, no machine learning.”
Musk subsequently asked for more information about bots but was met with “artificial roadblocks,” the filing alleges. It also accused Twitter of making major personnel changes in violation of the merger agreement.
The deal has a termination date of Oct. 24, but Musk’s lawyers argued the judge can extend the deadline once litigation is filed. The financing commitment from banks that agreed to help Musk fund the deal ends on April 25, 2023.
Musk’s filing comes three days after Twitter initially sued the mogul.
In its lawsuit, Twitter said Musk was guilty of a “long list of material contractual breaches” that have “cast a pall over Twitter and its business.”
Twitter’s suit even includes screenshots of Musk’s tweets, including one of a poop emoji that Musk posted in response to a tweet from Twitter’s CEO.
The company wants the judge to force the world’s richest man to buy the company at the originally agreed price of $54.20 per share.