Up until now, it’s looked like Twitter has been getting its own way in the legal proceedings against Elon Musk, but the world’s richest man just got a bit of good news, and a bit of bad, after the judge ordered the platform to hand over documents from its former consumer product head relating to methods of analyzing fake accounts. Musk’s team had requested documents from 22 individuals; the judge only granted access to one.
The crux of Musk’s argument against Twitter, and the reason he backed out of the $44 billion deal, is his claim that the company lies about how many fake/bot/spam accounts populate the site. It says the figure is fewer than 5% while Musk claims it’s closer to 20%.
Musk’s lawyers previously asked the judge in the case to hand over the names of employees who evaluate the number of bots on Twitter. But it has only given up the names of “records custodians” who aren’t as familiar with the data.
This week, Musk’s team requested documents from a further 22 Twitter employees who it claims have information on the company’s bot-counting methods. Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick denied access to all but one of them; the exception being Twitter’s former head of consumer product, Kayvon Beykpour, who was fired in May.
As per Reuters, Musk’s lawyers described Beykpour as being “most intimately involved with” the process of analyzing spam account numbers. He joined Twitter in 2015 when it acquired the now-discontinued live video app Periscope. Beykpour worked his way up to a top executive position primarily responsible for expanding Twitter’s user base through new product areas before being unexpectedly fired by CEO Parag Agrawal three months ago.
Many experts believe Twitter could come out on top when the full trial against Musk starts on October 17. The judge previously granted its request for an expedited trial to take place this year instead of 2023.
Musk recently said he would complete the acquisition of Twitter at the original $44 billion price if it showed precisely how it counts the number of fake accounts on the platform. He even challenged Agrawal to a debate over the matter.
It appears that the world’s richest man might not be as confident he will win the trial as he makes out. Twitter wants to force him into buying the company, and Musk has sold 7.92 million Tesla shares worth $6.9 billion to help fund a forced deal should any of his equity partners fail to come through.