Elon vs. Twitter is still going on

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It seems the news about Elon vs. Twitter has largely quiet down, despite the fact that the battle is far from over.

Here is the most recent update about this. Musk filed his answer and counterclaims to Twitter’s lawsuit, but there’s nothing really new there. Musk’s defense is still that (1) Twitter promised him that fewer than 5% of its monetizable daily active users are bots and (2) Twitter is conducting a massive long-running fraud, it has many fewer users than it claims, and its executives have conspired to deceive investors and advertisers and cover up its lack of real users. Point (1) is just false — the merger agreement is public and you can read it, and Musk never negotiated at all for any information about bots — and Point (2) is a weird conspiracy theory with absolutely no evidence for it. We have discussed this before, and nothing has changed since my last post. The trial starts on October 17 and I guess I’ll see you then in Delaware?

Meanwhile Musk continues to get up to stuff. When he tried to get out of the Twitter deal:

Elon Musk is the richest person in the world, and, like many other rich people, he has some unusual and expensive hobbies. One of his hobbies is that he sometimes likes to pretend that he will acquire public companies. He seems to find this fun, and why not? When he pretends that he’ll buy a public company, it creates a big drama with him at the center of it. He gets to boss people around, mobilize legions of bankers and lawyers and financing sources and random hangers-on hoping to get the deal done, and then when he gets bored he can tell all those people to go home. “Haha got you,” he can say, and they can all have a good laugh, or he can anyway.

It is a weird hobby, isn’t it? These dramas always seem to end unpleasantly for him: When he pretended he was going to buy Tesla Inc., he ended up paying a multimillion-dollar fraud settlement to the SEC and having restrictions put on his Twitter use, which he then ignored. When he pretended he was going to buy Twitter, he got, uh, sued for $44 billion is I guess what is going on now. From the outside, this all seems bad, and you might expect him to say “you know what, it isn’t worth it, I am going to stop pretending to buy companies.” But, no:

Elon Musk joked on Twitter about buying Manchester United Plc, letting 4 1/2 hours go by before clarifying he was kidding about purchasing the English football club listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The world’s richest person sent his initial missive about the storied club in a reply to an earlier post about his political allegiances. When a Tesla Inc. fan account asked whether Musk was serious, he replied no, he isn’t buying any sports teams. …

Musk’s Manchester United tweets could attract fresh regulatory attention, since the club has traded on the NYSE since 2012.

He cannot stop himself from pretending to buy public companies! Wh

at if he ever wants to actually buy a company? At this point, if you run a company, and Elon Musk shows up with an offer to buy your company, there’s like an 80% chance that he’s kidding. Even if he has bankers and lawyers and fully committed financing and a signed merger agreement, he’s probably kidding. I assume that there is some sort of business-genius negotiation strategy here that I am missing, and that when he actually does want to buy a company the board will be so terrified by his maniacal track record that they’ll just say “fine, take it, it’s free, just let us leave quietly.”