Elon Musk told a judge Friday that he needs until next year to respond to Twitter’s “meritless” claims that the mogul tried to scuttle the $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform.
Musk’s attorneys argued the trial should be pushed back until at least Feb. 13, 2023, so the defendants have more time to gather information about fake accounts on Twitter, according to court documents filed with the Delaware court Friday evening.
“The core dispute over false and spam accounts is fundamental to Twitter’s value,” Musk’s lawyers wrote in the 14-page filing. “It is also extremely fact and expert intensive, requiring substantial time for discovery.”
Musk, who first agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion in April, has since repeatedly argued that Twitter may be lying about what percentage of its users are bots — a move that Twitter’s lawyers blasted in their suit filed Wednesday as a “bad faith” attempt to scuttle the deal.
Twitter is seeking an unusually short four-day Delaware Court of Chancery trial starting in September, which some observers have interpreted as a show of confidence in its legal case.
Musk’s lawyers called Twitter’s request an unjustifiable “bid for extreme expedition.”
The legal filing blamed Twitter for not coming clean about its spam accounts until April 28 — three days after the merger agreement was signed.
On April 28, Twitter admitted in a public filing with the SEC that in March 2019 it launched a feature that allowed people to link multiple separate accounts together in order to conveniently switch between accounts. An error was made at that time, causing all linked accounts to be counted as users, which resulted in an overstatement of roughly 1%, the filing said.
The Tesla CEO’s Friday filing describes a May meeting with Twitter executives a week after the SEC filing that Musk claims led to his doubts about the company’s fake account figures.
“In a May 6 meeting with Twitter executives, Musk was flabbergasted to learn just how meager Twitter’s process was,” Musk’s lawyers wrote. “Human reviewers randomly sampled 100 accounts per day (less than 0.00005% of daily users) and applied unidentified standards to somehow conclude every quarter for nearly three years that fewer than 5% of Twitter users were false or spam. That’s it. No automation, no AI, no machine learning.”
Musk subsequently asked for more information about bots but was met with “artificial roadblocks,” the filing alleges. It also accuses Twitter of making major personnel changes in violation of the merger agreement.
The judge, Musk says, can extend the trial deadline well beyond the deal’s Oct. 24 termination date because the date is up to a judge’s discretion if litigation is filed.
Musk’s filing comes three days after Twitter initially sued the mogul.
In its lawsuit, Twitter accused Musk of “trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away” and said hew as guilty of a “long list of material contractual breaches” that have “cast a pall over Twitter and its business.”
The company wants Musk to be forced to buy the company at the originally agreed price of $54.20 per share.
Twitter’s suit even includes screenshots of Musk’s tweets, including one of a poop emoji that Musk posted in response to a tweet from Twitter’s CEO. Twitter argued the tweet is one of many examples of Musk “disparaging” Twitter in violation of the deal agreement.