A lower price for Twitter Inc. may not be “out of the question”, Elon Musk reportedly said at a conference on Monday amid public sparring with Parag Agrawal, the CEO of the social media giant, over spam accounts. The 50-year-old billionaire had last week put his $44 billion deal on hold over spam users, triggering uncertainty yet again for one of the most-closely watched takeovers of the tech world.
At Monday’s Miami conference, according to a Bloomberg report, the world’s richest person continued his argument: “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 reportedly further estimated that these users could be make up at least 20 per cent as he even took a swipe, saying the number could be as high as 90 per cent. The conference was closed to the press, reports said, but a live feed was apparently shared on social media by one of the attendees.
Twitter CEO has been more active than ever since last week after a cloud was cast over the deal. On Monday, the 37-year-old started a thread saying: “Let’s talk about spam. And let’s do so with the benefit of data, facts, and context…”
“We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before any of you even see them on Twitter. We also lock millions of accounts each week that we suspect may be spam – if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc).”
“The hard challenge is that many accounts which look fake superficially – are actually real people. And some of the spam accounts which are actually the most dangerous – and cause the most harm to our users – can look totally legitimate on the surface,” he further wrote.
In a nutshell, Agrawal underlined: “Our actual internal estimates for the last four quarters were all well under 5% – based on the methodology outlined above.”
The long Twitter thread, however, prompted comments from none other than Musk. “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter,” he replied to one of the posts. While to another, he simply responded with a poop emoji.
Twitter shares closed Monday down just over 8% at $37.39. Musk on April 14 had offered to buy the social network – one of the world’s largest – at $54.20 per share.
(With inputs from AP, Reuters, Bloomberg)