After bad-mouthing Twitter last week and helping send stock prices — and company value — down, Elon Musk said Monday that a lower purchase price for Twitter is “not out of the question.”
But he still didn’t appear very enthusiastic about buying the social media giant, even with a reduced price.
Musk reached a deal last month to buy Twitter for $44 billion but has recently been grumbling about the company, which has hurt its value.
He put the deal on “hold” last Friday after speculating that bots and spam may make up more than the company’s claim of less than 5% of the operation’s accounts.
The criticism, and Musk’s apparent balkiness about the deal, sent Twitter stocks down that day as much as 25% — a convenient situation for someone seeking a purchase deal.
The Tesla CEO mocked Twitter account figures in a remote interview at the All-Summit tech conference in Miami on Monday, quipping that the number of bots is “as unknowable as the human soul, basically.”
He called it “beyond reasonable for Twitter to claim that … the number of real, unique humans [on the social media platform] is above 95%.” He smirked: “There’s a bridge I’d like to sell ya.”
I have estimated, based on his theory about ratios of popular tweets to number of users, that spam and bots make up at least 20% of Twitter accounts. But Musk also speculated that bots could constitute “potentially 80% or 90%” of accounts, which is critical to know for advertising, he noted.
In response to a question, he said that reducing the purchase price wouldn’t be “out of the question” in light of the bot concerns, but he didn’t appear enthusiastic even in that case. “The more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow. At the end of the day, it has to be fixable.”
“It really depends on a lot of factors here,” he said. “I’m still waiting for some sort of logical explanation for the number of sort of fake or spam accounts on Twitter. And Twitter is refusing to tell us. This seems like a strange thing.”
He also accused Twitter of having a “far left bias.”
(Check out his full remarks below:)
Also Monday, Musk responded with a poop emoji when Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal explained in a detailed Twitter thread about how the company ascertains fake users.
Twitter shares fell 8.2% at the close of trading Monday in New York, Bloomberg reported.
Twitter has declined to comment on Musk’s latest remarks.
Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine last week raised concerns about market manipulation and securities fraud in the Twitter purchase in light of Musk’s very public criticism on his massive social media platform of a company he agreed to buy.