Elon Musk has accused Twitter of an “unjustifiable request to rush” the trial to determine whether he should be forced into a $44 billion deal to buy the social media company.
Musk has suggested a trial start in February at the earliest, according to a court filing from his lawyers on Friday. That’s several months later than the September timeline requested by Twitter in its lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware Chancery court just days after Musk announced his intention to terminate the deal.
Lawyers representing Tesla’s chief executive said in the 16-page response to Twitter’s lawsuit on Friday that the issue of spam accounts on the network — one of Musk’s main reasons for trying to pull out of the deal – was “fundamental” to the case and required a longer investigation and “substantial time for discovery”.
Musk’s lawyers described the proposed trial date, and Twitter’s suggestion that it could be completed in four days, as being on a “freakish schedule.”
“Twitter’s sudden request for warp speed after two months of stomping and obfuscation is its latest tactic to cover up the truth about spam accounts long enough for railroad defendants to shut down,” the post said. case.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday. Twitter declined to comment.
The social media company’s lawsuit accused Musk, the world’s richest man, of trying to pull out of the deal due to the tech stock rout that hurt the value of Twitter and Facebook. many of his peers. By July 8, when Musk announced his intention to walk out of the deal worth $54.20 a share, the stock had fallen to $36.81.
In a case that has captivated the corporate world, Musk’s defense hinges on his ability to convince the court that the problem of bots – automated spam accounts – on the platform is much bigger than what had previously disclosed, representing a “material adverse effect” that would give him the ability to opt out of the case.
Musk alleged that Twitter violated the merger agreement by not sharing enough information about the fake accounts, a position reiterated in Friday’s filing, which again challenged the company’s long-held estimate. that bots accounted for less than 5% of users.
Following a meeting between Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, “Musk was stunned to discover that Twitter’s spam account identification process relied on human reviewers to observe a tiny fraction of the user base rather than utilizing the company’s machine learning capabilities,” the filing states. .
In its lawsuit, Twitter argued that Musk was well aware of the site’s problem with bots, pointing to tweets Musk posted highlighting the issue before the deal.
The social network also accused Musk of breaching the terms of the merger agreement that required he not disparage the company, highlighting his tweets that appeared to incite Twitter management.
Responding to this claim, Musk’s filing accused Twitter of being unable to take a joke.
“With a bot’s sense of humor, Twitter claims Musk is hurting the company with tweets like a Chuck Norris meme and a poo emoji,” the filing reads. “Twitter ignores that Musk is its second-largest shareholder with a far greater economic stake than the entire Twitter board. »
Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy