EXCLUSIVE: Elon Musk has been approached by one network and two cable channels who want to air public debate between him and Twitter chair Parag Agrawal as legal battle over aborted $44b takeover rages
- Sources tell Dailymail.com that Elon Musk has been approached to air a debate with Twitter chair Parag Agrawal as their contentious legal battle rages on
- The South African billionaire was sued by Twitter in July after backing out of a $44 billion deal to buy the company, claiming the company has too many accounts generated by bots
- The lawsuit, which was filed in July, is set to go to trial in Delaware on October 17, though Musk has now countersued
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been approached by one unnamed network and two unnamed cable channels to air his proposed debate against Twitter chairman Parag Agrawal, after Musk dropped his bid to buy Twitter, sources tell DailyMail.com.
Musk tweeted at Agrawal on Saturday, challenging him to a public debate ‘about the Twitter bot percentage.’ Musk wrote in a now-deleted tweet he wants Agrawal to ‘prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!’
He also tweeted a Twitter poll just after the original tweet, asking users to vote on whether ‘Less than 5% of Twitter daily users are fake/spam.’ As of Saturday evening, 66.6% had voted no while 33.5% voted yes.
The South African billionaire was sued by Twitter in July after backing out of the $44 billion deal, claiming the social media company never disclosed to him how many of their accounts were fake bot accounts.
Musk was sued by Twitter in July after backing out of a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter after he said the company misrepresented how many spam bot accounts are active on the website
Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter, has yet to engage with Musk in public, but Dailymail.com can confirm Musk has been approached to air a debate against Agrawal
Musk sent out two tweets on Saturday seemingly goading Twitter chairman Parag Agrawal into engaging in a debate with him. Dailymail.com can reveal two cable channels and one network have approached him about airing the debate
Elon Musk tweets a photo of himself with one of his sons early in August, captioning the picture ‘Thanksgiving last year after watching one too many episodes of Vikings’
The contention started after Musk signed an agreement to buy Twitter for $52.20 per share on April 25 – but the Tesla CEO abandoned the takeover on July 8 while blaming the company for breaching the agreement by misrepresenting the number of fake accounts on its platform.
The Silicon Valley elite targeted in Twitter’s latest subpoenas
Chamath Palihapitiya: A prominent venture capitalist with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. His connection with the deal is unclear, but he attended the All-In Summit in May with Musk’s other financial backers.
David Sacks: Sacks is a member of the so-called PayPal mafia who helped found the payments startup with Musk in the late 1990s. He was said to be a key advisor in Musk’s inner circle as the takeover bid unfolded this spring.
Steve Jurvetson: Another member of Musk’s reported ‘brain trust’ who counseled the billionaire. Jurvetson was an early investor in Tesla, where Musk is CEO. He once served on the Tesla board, and currently serves on the board of Musk’s SpaceX.
Marc Andreessen: A Silicon Valley titan worth an estimated $1.6B and co-founder of the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, which agreed to invest $400 million in Musk’s takeover deal.
Jason Calacanis: Also previously reported as involved in funding the deal. Launched an investment pool known as a special purpose vehicle to raise money from smaller investors at a minimum buy-in of $250,000
Keith Rabois: Another early PayPal executive alongside Musk. His connection to the Twitter deal is unclear.
Joe Lonsdale: A partner at 8VC, a San Francisco-based VC firm. ‘I have nothing to do with this aside from a few snarky comments,’ he said of Musk’s Twitter takeover.
Twitter then sued Musk and claimed the fake account accusations were a distraction. The signed agreement allegedly required Musk to close the deal at the price agreed upon.
The lawsuit, which was filed in July, is set to go to trial in Delaware on October 17.
Musk countersued the company on July 29, reasserting his belief the company was bumping its numbers through spam bots. The 164-page document was not publicly released.
The lawsuit by Musk was filed hours after Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery ordered the five-day trial beginning in October to determine if Musk can walk away from the deal.
Musk’s filing indicates he believes that during the first week of July, spam bots accounted for 33% of visible accounts on the platform and about 10% of Twitter’s monetizable daily active users, or mDAU.
Musk has also requested records from Twitter advisers Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase about how the banks advised the social media platform on the $44 billion deal.
Besides Musk’s accusations of Twitter’s ‘false and misleading representations’ of the number of fake accounts, lawyers also point to recent Twitter employee layoffs and hiring freezes, which they say are contrary to the company’s obligation to continue operating normally.
But Twitter has also requested information from Musk’s adviser, Morgan Stanley.
More subpoenas for the companies Tesla and SpaceX have also been requested to turn over information about the deal, along with conversational exchanges with their boss, according to Bloomberg.
Bret Taylor, Twitter’s chairman, tweeted the board was ‘committed to closing the transaction’ under the current terms of the deal and they were ‘confident’ they would win.
In May, the crypto-currency exchange Binance put $500 million towards the Tesla CEO’s $7.1 billion buyout of Twitter. Twitter further subpoenaed Binance to learn more about the investment, according to the report.
Twitter has also requested information on investors Chamath Palihapitiya, David Sacks, Steve Jurvetson, Marc Andreessen, Jason Calacanis and Keith Rabois, among others.
Investor Joe Lonsdale, an associate of Musk, said he received a subpoena from the social media firm. He called the subpoena a ‘giant harassing fishing expedition.’
Investor Joe Lonsdale announced on Twitter that he had received a subpoena from the platform. He said he was not associated with the deal aside from making ‘a few snarky comments’ and called the legal probe a ‘giant harassing fishing expedition.’
Those in the subpoenas may be called to testify in court.
Analysts said that Twitter is likely trying to find evidence that Musk made statements privately that contradicted his public stance that the company’s issues with fake accounts made the buyout untenable.
For instance, if Musk hypothetically downplayed the bot issue as he sought financial backing for the deal, or revealed to confidantes that he had other reasons for backing out of the acquisition, it could bolster Twitter’s case.