“Surely you have the corresponding phone numbers, right?“, interrogates journalist commenting on the public correspondence – and moonlight – between Twitter General Manager Parag Agrawal and Elon Musk, the future owner of the social network. Monday, May 16, in the evening, in response to series of 13 tweets leader of Twitter, which details the method of estimating the number of fake accounts carried out by the company, the billionaire posted an emoji (these small images used in an email to express an emotion, character or action) of at least in particular: “poop emoji“, whose name speaks for itself, to translate Elon Musk’s answer.
Since last Friday, the businessman has been accusing the social network of miscalculating the number of fake users, which has been estimated at less than 5% since 2019. So he announced that hesuspended“His takeover of the company for $44 billion. This “suspension” – without any legal effect, the contract was not terminated – led to a decrease in the share price and could allow him to renegotiate the acquisition price set at $54.20 per share.
[Capture d’écran La Tribune]
War of Numbers
According to the method of its estimation tVery doubtful – polling a sample of 100 @twitter account followers randomly selected – Elon Musk confirmed at the All In conference in Miami that, in his opinion, there are more than 20% of fake accounts on the platform. During his speech, which lasted more than 2 hours, he also confirmed that he was considering the possibility of carrying out negotiations for a takeover to the downside. AT May 17th tweethe rebought, saying that this figure might even be “much better“:
“My proposal was based on the fact that Twitter’s claims to the SEC [le gendarme des marchés américains, ndlr] were correct. Yesterday, the chief executive of Twitter publicly declined to provide evidence that the figure was below 5%. The operation cannot continue until he does so.“, he stated.
In his thread of tweets attacked by Elon Musk, Parag Agrawal nonetheless clarified that Twitter’s assessment is based on “human ranking of thousands of accounts, randomly selected, consistently over time among accounts counted as mDAUs [utilisateurs quotidiens actifs monétisables, la mesure avancée par Twitter auprès des annonceurs publicitaires, ndlr]He adds that he shared a presentation of the evaluation process with Elon Musk the week before, and that 5% is a high estimate for the number of fake accounts.
Elon Musk pushes the transparency lever
“Unfortunately, we do not believe that the assessment we are making can be done externally, given the urgent need to use both public and private data (which we cannot share).”regrets the leader of Twitter.
It is at this moment that Elon Musk finds his angle of attack: he demands the most complete transparency from the social network … and he himself puts forward figures taken from the hat. “How can advertisers know what they are getting for their money? This point is essential to Twitter’s financial health.he answers Parag Agrawal. before adding later “it would seem Twitter should accept external confirmation if their words are true“.
With this aggressive communication, reinforced by his many supporters, the billionaire put the company’s executives in an uncomfortable position. Elon Musk is playing with fire: he directly accuses Twitter of lying to regulators, which is an offense punishable by lawsuits and heavy fines. Faced with this latest onslaught, Twitter’s board of directors may agree to sit down at the negotiating table and renegotiate the price downward before Elon Musk further damages his reputation. Or he may decide to confront: the billionaire is bound by a contract, and only a case of verified fraud by Twitter can get out of it. If he fails to demonstrate this last point, he may still be forced to undergo surgery. And in this case, his maneuver to devalue the company will backfire in his face.