Elon Musk tries to bail on Twitter purchase

Elon Musk speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition.
Elon Musk speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition. (Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk no longer wants to buy Twitter, the social media platform that for over a decade has been a major forum for gaming discourse, memes, and apologies written in white text over a black background.

Musk is supposed to pay $54.20 per share for Twitter, which comes to $43.4 billion, but Twitter's share price has dropped to $36.81 since the deal was signed in April. That is one fact that Musk hopes will help get him out of it. A letter sent by Musk's lawyers to Twitter's lawyers poses that Twitter's "recent financial performance and revised outlook" might be a valid reason to cancel the purchase.

However, the main reason Musk says he should be let off the hook first came up in May, when he said the deal was on hold while his team assessed the prevalence of "spam/fake accounts" on Twitter. According to Musk's side, Twitter failed to provide the "data and information necessary" to make that assessment.

Twitter reportedly planned to offer Musk a "firehose" of raw data in June, and said yesterday that it removes over a million spam accounts every day. The company does not accept Musk's attempt to cancel the deal.

"The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement," said Bret Taylor, chair of the Twitter board.

When the purchase deal was signed, Musk agreed to a $1 billion fee should he back out, but Twitter seems to be intent on holding him to the full purchase agreement.

"We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery," Taylor said.

Musk has previously said that his plan to buy Twitter is about protecting free speech on the platform, but he hasn't yet commented publicly on today's attempt not to buy Twitter. That'd be normal for someone else, but Musk so often tweets about news related to himself that it comes off as surprisingly reserved.

Regarding Musk's intentions for the platform, I saw some threaten to leave Twitter if he took over, while others threatened to post even more, but I'm not sure the average Twitter feed would've changed much. The power that private, US-based social media companies like Twitter and Meta assert over the global movement of information is easily one of the biggest problems of our time, but I'm doubtful that Musk's freedom of speech rhetoric refers to international political issues such as the Nicaraguan Sandinistas who said last year that Facebook banned them on false pretenses. The whole plan seemed to be more along the lines of Jordan Peterson's recent post-Twitter-ban exclamation: "Up yours, woke moralists! We'll see who cancels who!"

We may yet find out what Musk Twitter is like, since his decision not to buy Twitter after agreeing to buy Twitter isn't sitting very well with Twitter, but it could be a while before this is resolved in court. In the meantime, I'm sure we'll all keep posting bad tweets—especially the brands, who just can't help themselves, as EA demonstrated the other day.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.