Elon Musk may be second-guessing his $44 billion offer to buy the entirety of Twitter, but the future of the acquisition is pretty much out of his hands, at this point. Just days after Musk tweeted that the buyout was “temporarily on hold,” Twitter submitted a new SEC filing reminding Musk that he really can’t walk away at this point.
Musk has, in recent days, caused much confusion by claiming a buyout at a lower price than $54.20 per share was still possible. This isn’t actually true, though, as Twitter would like Musk to remember; he’s already agreed to pay full price. Backing out now would command a $1 billion fee from Musk.
Despite this legal obligation — or, perhaps, because of it — Musk has spent the last few days holding back absolutely no chaos on Twitter. Perhaps he simply doesn’t want to buy the company anymore. Not for $44 billion, at least.
Dragging his feet — Musk’s emotional attachment to his 11-figure bid has been fraught from the start. His intentions with the takeover have always been muddled; he claimed the pursuit of personal profits didn’t factor into his decision, for example, choosing instead to focus his efforts on various annoyances he had with the social network.
The acquisition has somehow only grown more tiring to follow since the Twitter board agreed to the deal. Musk has been spending his days questioning his soon-to-be company on its own social network, even going so far as to reply to CEO Parag Argawal with a poop emoji.
Musk now seems to be holding nothing back on Twitter. He’s having a major crisis of faith, based in — what else? — the number of bots populating the platform, even claiming he won’t go through with the deal until he has a better idea of how many fake accounts exist on the site.
But the bots are one of the reasons Musk wanted to buy Twitter in the first place, so he could be the hero that weeded them out. So there’s that.
Today Musk also called upon the SEC — the very organization he’s spent years railing against — about the bot issue.
He’s gotta do it, though — As you might expect from Musk, there’s no good reason for his sudden fixation on bots and spam accounts. He’s now claiming Twitter’s admitted 5 percent rate of fake and spam accounts is entirely inaccurate; he estimates it to be closer to 20 percent. (Where he found that number is unclear.)
It seems likely that Musk is putting on this performance because he does not want to spend $44 billion on Twitter anymore. One need look no further than his promise to defeat the bots when he first announced his takeover bid. The man loves to leave his promises in the dust.