Musk calls Twitter’s explanation of its bot numbers ‘very suspicious’ as he suggests slashing the value of his takeover bid
Elon Musk is still angling—at least publicly—for a lower price tag for Twitter.
On Saturday, Musk agreed with a suggestion from conservative writer Ian Miles Cheong that the Tesla CEO should lower his price for Twitter by the proportion of bots on the platform, or, for example, asking for a 25% discount if 25% of Twitter users were fake.
Musk’s $44 billion deal for Twitter has the Tesla CEO paying $54.20 per share, a 42% premium over Twitter’s Friday share price of $38.29. Knocking the deal price down by 25% would mean paying $40.65 per share, only a slight 6% premium over the current share price.
Musk has long been irritated by fake accounts on Twitter, pledging to kick spambots off the platform in the event that his takeover bid goes through. Since declaring that his attempt to buy Twitter was “on hold” on May 13, Musk has repeatedly challenged Twitter’s claim that spambots make up only 5% of the platform’s users. The Tesla CEO has claimed that the number of fake accounts could be closer to 20%, or even as high as 80%.
On Saturday, Musk tweeted he was worried that “Twitter has a disincentive to reduce spam, as it reduces perceived daily users.” Musk alleged that the social media platform was refusing to explain how it calculated the number of bot users, calling it “very suspicious.”
When Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tried to explain how the company calculates the number of spam accounts last week, Musk responded with a poop emoji.
Musk might have other reasons for wanting to renegotiate his deal with Twitter, however. The broad slump in tech stocks may be encouraging the Tesla CEO to reassess the value of the social media platform. Twitter shares are down 26% since April 25, the day Musk agreed to buy Twitter.
Musk’s wealth has also diminished due to the recent plunge in Tesla shares, which are down 33% since April 25, as investors worry about the Tesla CEO’s ability to manage the electric car maker along with Twitter, SpaceX, and his other initiatives. (Musk has pushed back against these concerns, claiming to be spending less than 5% of his time on the Twitter acquisition.)
For its part, Twitter says the deal, as originally agreed, is going ahead. Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s chief lawyer, told an all-hands meeting on Friday that the deal with Musk is not “on hold”—despite Musk’s statements on Twitter—and that the sale would proceed at the agreed-upon price of $54.20 per share, reports Bloomberg.
Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.