A lawyer for Elon Musk argued in a letter Friday to Twitter Inc. that a roughly $7 million payment the company made to a whistleblower gives the billionaire more ammunition to walk away from a $44 billion deal to buy the social-media business, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Twitter agreed in June to pay a settlement to Peiter Zatko, who served as the company’s security head before being fired in January. The settlement was completed days before Mr. Zatko filed his whistleblower complaint in July, in which he accuses the company of failing to protect sensitive user data and lying about security problems, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Twitter has denied the allegations and said Mr. Zatko was fired “for ineffective leadership and poor performance.”
Twitter didn’t reach out to Mr. Musk for consent before making the $7.75 million in payments to Mr. Zatko and his counsel, said Mr. Musk’s lawyer Mike Ringler, of Scadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He also said Mr. Musk first learned of the payment when Twitter filed the separation agreement with Mr. Zatko in court last week where he is fighting with Twitter over his effort to abandon the deal.
The Verge reported that Elon Musk has sent a third letter to Twitter attempting to terminate his $44 billion acquisition of the company. According to The Verge, the letter was dated September 9th, was sent to Twitter’s chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde, and was used in a filing Twitter made with the SEC on Friday. The Verge has embedded a copy of the letter in their article.
So far, Elon Musk has attempted several times to end his deal with Twitter. In July of 2022, Elon Musk’s camp concluded that Twitter’s figures on spam accounts were not verifiable. Twitter responded that spam accounts make up less than 5% of the company’s daily monetizable users, which Twitter defines as daily users who are logged in and authenticated by Twitter.
Also in July of 2022, Elon Musk sought to terminate his deal by claiming that Twitter breached the terms of the deal by not being forthcoming about critical business information as it pertains to bots. He also requested that Twitter give him access to its “firehose” or stream of tweets.
In August, a judge rejected Elon Musk’s “absurdly broad” Twitter data request for years of data about Twitter Inc.’s spam and fake accounts. However, the judge ordered Twitter to provide a subset of the information to Mr. Musk’s lawyers.
And now, Elon Musk claims that the money that Twitter paid Pieter Zatko was a violation of the merger agreement and a reason to end the deal. Mr. Musk appears to be having a “buyer’s remorse” over his decision to buy Twitter.