After doing whatever he could to back out of his bid to buy Twitter for $44 billion, Elon Musk proposed to move forward with his initial offer of buying Twitter at $54.20 per share.
Bloomberg first reported that Twitter received a letter from Musk’s team on Tuesday with the news that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO wanted to get the deal back on track. “We received the letter from the Musk parties which they have filed with the SEC,” a Twitter spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch. “The intention of the Company is to close the transaction at $54.20 per share.”
The letter was also filed with the SEC, confirming Musk’s intentions to follow through on the deal’s original terms. Musk’s one stipulation? That the court “enter an immediate stay of the action, Twitter vs. Musk, et al. and adjourn the trial and all other proceedings related thereto.”
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO was slated to face off against Twitter in a trial beginning in less than two weeks. Musk and his team had alleged that Twitter was in breach of their deal by lying about the percentage of bots on the platform. But after months of back-and-forth, Musk hasn’t been able to conjure conclusive evidence that Twitter had shared false or misleading information with him.
Twitter has long claimed that only about 5% of monetizable daily active users are fake accounts, but Musk has alleged on Twitter that this number might be closer to 20%. But during a hearing last week, Twitter’s lawyers said that the data scientists that Musk himself hired did not find this to be true. One firm, Cyabra, said that Twitter could have up to 11% fake accounts or bots, while CounterAction claimed that 5.3% of Twitter users are bots.
Since Musk’s proposal to follow through on the deal went public, Twitter shares increased by 16%, reaching about $49 per share; now, Twitter has halted trading. When Musk initially made his acquisition offer in April, the stock traded at nearly $51 before dropping to about $36 in July, when he said he would terminate the deal.
Tuesday afternoon, Musk tweeted a mysterious hint about his sudden change of heart with Twitter: “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.” Musk owns the domain X.com and has a holding company by the same name. He previously tweeted the domain in a reply to a tweet asking if he’d make his own social network if the Twitter deal fell through.
“Twitter probably accelerates X by 3 to 5 years, but I could be wrong,” he tweeted Tuesday. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO might be trying to save face after backing down in his standoff with Twitter, suggesting that the company again clicks perfectly into his master plan. Though, because it’s Elon Musk we’re talking about here, it might just be a joke.
It’s possible that in agreeing to buy the company (again), Musk and his legal team might simply be reading the writing on the wall. It was clear, both from the timing of his decisions and from private texts that surfaced during discovery, that Musk’s decision to call the deal off was influenced by Russia doubling down on its invasion of Ukraine and the economy souring.
While Musk loudly and repeatedly pointed to new concerns about the number of bots on Twitter as a reason to kill the deal, he also said previously that defeating bots was one reason he wanted to buy the company to begin with.
Musk also might just be seeking to avoid some of the more uncomfortable aspects of such a high profile trial. He was slated to give his deposition later this week and has already had to produce revealing documents, including his private texts that discussed the deal with a number of figures from the tech world.
Late Monday, the judge in the case said that Twitter could pursue additional discovery to look for evidence that the Twitter whistleblower, former Twitter security lead Peiter Zatko a.k.a. “Mudge,” may have been secretly in contact with Musk or his legal team prior to going public with his concerns about the company in August.