Elon Musk said his planned acquisition of Twitter Inc. was “temporarily on hold” because of concerns about fake accounts, a surprise twist that jolted investors and raised questions about his willingness to go through with the $44 billion transaction, The Wall Street Journal reported.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Musk’s “grenade” came in a tweet posted at 5:44 a.m. Eastern Time that was followed just over two hours later by another saying he was “still committed to acquisition.” Lawyers close to Mr. Musk urged him to send that follow-up tweet, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that the initial announcement was unorthodox not just in its timing and format, but because Mr. Musk referenced a recent Twitter disclosure about fake and spam accounts that it has made consistently for years – and because Mr. Musk has already signed an agreement for the purchase and waived detailed due diligence on the deal.
The Washington Post reported that Elon Musk’s declaration cast fresh doubt on the seriousness of his offer just as he was scrambling to find new investors to help him fund the deal. It also played into his hand by sending Twitter’s stock price tumbling, though the tweet had the potential to draw regulatory scrutiny.
According to The Washington Post: Spam bots, accounts that peddle cryptocurrency scams and otherwise seek to exploit vulnerable users, have long been a pet peeve of the technology mogul who regularly encounters impersonators in his activity on site.
Axios reported: For Musk to liquidate a significant amount of Tesla stake and to wrangle bankers into giving him billions of dollars in financing, only to backtrack due to a single [Reuters] article, shows how manic the entire takeover process has been.
The New York Times referenced Elon Musk’s contradictory tweets, and reported: The seemingly contradictory messages left many wondering whether Mr. Musk was getting cold feet, trying to drive down the acquisition price or looking for a bit of attention. Perhaps it was some combination of the three. Twitter’s stock yo-yoed in response to his posts.
Personally, I cannot even begin to guess what, exactly, Elon Musk is trying to do. Maybe he doesn’t know, either. It seems that having more money than most people will ever see in their lifetime gives Elon Musk the leverage to play with the rules. I’ll leave it to regulators to determine if he’s crossed the line.