Just days after Elon Musk threatened to walk away from his offer to acquire Twitter, the microblogging company has reportedly acted to try to save the deal by offering to hand over a huge trove of data linked to the platform.
Earlier this week, a lawyer for Musk contacted Twitter to say that unless it met Musk’s demands to release data on the number of fake and spam accounts populating the platform, the Tesla CEO could end his bid to acquire the company. Musk bid $44 billion for the company in April, but later questioned Twitter’s long-held assertion that only 5% of its 229 million users comprise fake accounts. He believes the figure may be much higher, and if it is, advertisers could walk away from the service or demand lower rates, adversely impacting Twitter’s revenue and leaving Musk thinking he’s offered too much for the company.
For a while, Twitter failed to respond to Musk’s request for data on fake and spam accounts, but now the company has reportedly offered Musk and his team access to the platform’s so-called “firehose,” according to an unnamed source who spoke to the Washington Post. The firehose data comprises all of the hundreds of millions of tweets that land on the service daily, and also includes details on the users’ devices and information on the associated accounts.
Twitter already makes its firehose data available — at a price. The Post suggested that around 24 companies currently pay for access to the data, which can be used for activities such as research and marketing.
The Post notes in its report that when Musk inked the deal two months ago, “he waived a right to look deeply at Twitter’s finances and internal workings,” adding that the terms of the agreement state that Musk has to proceed with the takeover unless he can demonstrate that Twitter in some way misled him or if some kind of significant event adversely impacts its value.
Skeptics have suggested that Musk may have got cold feet about the deal and is using the spat over fake accounts to try to get out of it. Musk has insisted he still wants to buy the company, but that he must first see accurate stats on the number of fake or spam accounts.
It’s not yet clear if Twitter’s reported offer to hand over its firehose data to Musk’s team will be enough to keep the deal on track. First, data analysts will need to pore over the data to try to determine the number of fake or spam accounts. If they’re able to successfully categorize the different types of accounts on the service, Musk then has three choices. To walk away, to lower the value of his bid, or to proceed with the current offer.