Elon Musk kicked off a frantic Friday the 13th for the tech and business worlds by announcing that his deal to acquire social media giant Twitter was being held up.
“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” the billionaire tweeted.
“Still committed to acquisition,” he tweeted.
Twitter said in a quarterly filing on May 2 that its “estimation of false or spam accounts may not accurately represent the actual number,” language similar to that used in its past filings.
The company also said it is dealing with many risks, including whether advertisers will support it and “potential uncertainty regarding our future plans and strategy.”
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s effort to buy Twitter has caused internal upheaval, including CEO Parag Agrawal’s moves Thursday to fire a pair of top executives, put a halt to new hiring and announce spending would be cut.
Musk has said that if he were to acquire Twitter, one of his priorities would be to wipe out fake accounts or “spam bots,” according to Reuters.
Some commentators, however, said the initial tweet could be a signal of cold feet.
“Many will view this as Musk using this Twitter filing/spam accounts as a way to get out of this deal in a vastly changing market,” Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush, said in a note for investors, according to The New York Times.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the tweet might be part of a broader strategy, according to CNBC.
“The $44 billion price tag is huge, and it may be a strategy to row back on the amount he is prepared to pay to acquire the platform,” she said in a statement.
If Musk walks away from the deal, he has to pay out $1 billion for what CNBC termed a “breakup fee.”
He has spoken often about Twitter bots — automated accounts that replicate tweets.
“If I had a Dogecoin for every crypto scam I saw, we’d have 100 billion Dogecoin,” Musk said.
“A top priority I would have is eliminating the spam and scam bots and the bot armies that are on Twitter,” he said last month, according to Fox Business.
In a statement issued on April 25, Musk said he sought to overhaul Twitter by “enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans,” according to The Washington Post.
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