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Elon Musk hints paying less for Twitter as he sparred with CEO over bots

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Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, hinted at a lower price for a Twitter takeover as he sparred with CEO Parag Agrawal about the actual number of bots or spammy accounts on the platform.

Musk stated at a conference in Miami that Twitter could have at least four times the number of fake accounts revealed in its filing.

“You can’t pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed,” he said during the event late on Monday.

“Currently what I’m being told is that there’s just no way to know the number of bots. It’s like, as unknowable as the human soul,” he added.

Musk, who has put the $44 billion takeover deal on hold, believes bots account for at least 20% of Twitter users and that a lower price is not “out of the question.”

On Monday, Twitter shares fell 8% to close at $37.39.

Musk went after Agrawal after the Twitter CEO went into greater detail on Monday about how the microblogging platform combats spam and fake accounts.

On his Twitter thread, Musk even displayed an emoji depicting a “pile of poo” to Agrawal.

“Our actual internal estimates for the last four quarters were all well under 5 per cent — based on the methodology outlined above. The error margins on our estimates give us confidence in our public statements each quarter,” said Agrawal.

“Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share). Externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day,” said Agrawal.

Musk then replied on his Twitter thread: “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter.”

At the summit, Musk said: “They claim that they’ve got this complex methodology that only they can understand… It can’t be some deep mystery that is, like, more complex than the human soul or something like that.”


About the author

Brendan Byrne

While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala.

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