Elon Musk sent a letter today to Twitter ending the agreement to purchase the company based on what Musk believes to be deal terminating issues.
Musk shared in his letter to Twitter:
Mr. Musk is terminating the Merger Agreement because Twitter is in material breach of multiple provisions of that Agreement, appears to have made false and misleading representations upon which Mr. Musk relied when entering into the Merger Agreement, and is likely to suffer a Company Material Adverse Effect (as that term is defined in the Merger Agreement).
As TGP mentioned before, messing with the SEC is like messing with Sasquatch. You best not do it.
Filings with the SEC must be perfect. To misrepresent numbers or assertions in the filings is a very big deal. Companies have gone bankrupt for doing so. This was explained in a prior post.
(Having overseen the financial reporting for a billion-dollar entity, this comes with some experience, never report bad numbers to the SEC. Ever. Investors depend on numbers filed with the SEC and false or fake numbers can impact their decisions. Investors could use this against the company if the stock price falls. The leaders of the company can be in grave trouble.)
Unfortunately for Twitter, they failed to provide accurate and transparent data to Musk so that he could gain comfort in the number of fake bots on the site. Twitter claims this number is 5% but Musk makes the following key points – bolded below:
In addition to the foregoing, Twitter is in breach of the Merger Agreement because the Merger Agreement appears to contain materially inaccurate representations. Specifically, in the Merger Agreement, Twitter represented that no documents that Twitter filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission since January 1, 2022, included any “untrue statement of a material fact” (Section 4.6(a)). Twitter has repeatedly made statements in such filings regarding the portion of its mDAUs that are false or spam, including statements that: “We have performed an internal review of a sample of accounts and estimate that the average of false or spam accounts during the first quarter of 2022 represented fewer than 5% of our mDAU during the quarter,” and “After we determine an account is spam, malicious automation, or fake, we stop counting it in our mDAU, or other related metrics.” Mr. Musk relied on this representation in the Merger Agreement (and Twitter’s numerous public statements regarding false and spam accounts in its publicly filed SEC documents) when agreeing to enter into the Merger Agreement. Mr. Musk has the right to seek rescission of the Merger Agreement in the event these material representations are determined to be false.
Although Twitter has not yet provided complete information to Mr. Musk that would enable him to do a complete and comprehensive review of spam and fake accounts on Twitter’s platform, he has been able to partially and preliminarily analyze the accuracy of Twitter’s disclosure regarding its mDAU. While this analysis remains ongoing, all indications suggest that several of Twitter’s public disclosures regarding its mDAUs are either false or materially misleading. First, although Twitter has consistently represented in securities filings that “fewer than 5%” of its mDAU are false or spam accounts, based on the information provided by Twitter to date, it appears that Twitter is dramatically understating the proportion of spam and false accounts represented in its mDAU count. Preliminary analysis by Mr. Musk’s advisors of the information provided by Twitter to date causes Mr. Musk to strongly believe that the proportion of false and spam accounts included in the reported mDAU count is wildly higher than 5%. Second, Twitter’s disclosure that it ceases to count fake or spam users in its mDAU when it determines that those users are fake appears to be false. Instead, we understand, based on Twitter’s representations during a June 30, 2022 call with us, that Twitter includes accounts that have been suspended—and thus are known to be fake or spam—in its quarterly mDAU count even when it is aware that the suspended accounts were included in mDAU for that quarter. Last, Twitter has represented that it is “continually seeking to improve our ability to estimate the total number of spam accounts and eliminate them from the calculation of our mDAU…” But, Twitter’s process for calculating its mDAU, and the percentage of mDAU comprised of non-monetizable spam accounts, appears to be arbitrary and ad hoc. Disclosing that Twitter has a reasoned process for calculating mDAU when the opposite is true would be false and misleading.
Twitter’s representation in the Merger Agreement regarding the accuracy of its SEC disclosures relating to false and spam accounts may have also caused, or is reasonably likely to result in, a Company Material Adverse Effect, which may form an additional basis for terminating the Merger Agreement. While Mr. Musk and his advisors continue to investigate the exact nature and extent of this event, Mr. Musk has reason to believe that the true number of false or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform is substantially higher than the amount of less than 5% represented by Twitter in its SEC filings. Twitter’s true mDAU count is a key component of the company’s business, given that approximately 90% of its revenue comes from advertisements. For this reason, to the extent that Twitter has underrepresented the number of false or spam accounts on its platform, that may constitute a Company Material Adverse Effect under Section 7.2(b)(i) of the Merger Agreement. Mr. Musk is also examining the company’s recent financial performance and revised outlook, and is considering whether the company’s declining business prospects and financial outlook constitute a Company Material Adverse Effect giving Mr. Musk a separate and distinct basis for terminating the Merger Agreement.
Twitter according to Musk is not being transparent about its accounting for false or spam accounts. Twitter signed an agreement to provide all the information it can so that Musk can make an intelligent decision on the purchase but is not doing that.
It looks like false or spam accounts are the downfall of the Musk – Twitter deal. They may be the downfall of Twitter as well.