Flat White

‘Chuckmate’ – Elon Musk corners Twitter

12 July 2022

9:00 AM

12 July 2022

9:00 AM

Chuckmate? No, it’s not a typo – it’s a meme war.

It was tweeted by Elon Musk beneath an image of Chuck Norris playing chess. While not explicitly mentioned, it is a message widely assumed to be directed at the Twitter Board after he walked on the $44 billion price tag.

Failing to complete the deal could result in a $1 billion breakup fee – or he might be forced to make good on the original deal to marry it at $54.20 a share. Between these extremes is the possibility to renegotiate the share price – something that Elon Musk may be eager to do given Twitter’s price has dropped.

The ‘Chuckmate’ meme follows on from another that features images of Elon Musk saying:

‘They said I couldn’t buy Twitter. Then they wouldn’t disclose bot info. Now they want to force me to buy Twitter in court. Now they have to disclose bot info in court.’

(If you’re not old enough to understand the Chuck Norris reference, I’m too depressed to explain it to you. It’d be like catching someone up on ABBA – which I’ve already had to do.)


Absurdity continues as the world’s richest man torments Twitter, Silicon Valley’s social media darling. Twitter is looking a tad bedraggled from the attention with a soiled cage full of bots and discarded feathers that shed every time Musk posts a tweet.

Despite doing everything possible not to be purchased, including attempting a poison-pill approach, Twitter is now desperately trying to secure the purchase by taking Elon Musk to the Delaware Court of Chancery. The company has hired the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to sue the world’s richest man.

Twitter’s chairman, Brent Taylor, tweeted (naturally) on July 8:

‘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. We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery.’

The dispute revolves around the value of Twitter’s users. As they say, nothing is truly ‘free’ in this world. Real Twitter accounts that belong to living, breathing human beings represent a valuable commodity. They are a customer base, a voting demographic, an information resource, and a pile of data that can be examined and sold in an endless farm of wealth.

Elon Musk knows that if he promises the masses ‘free speech’ they will flock to Twitter and roost in the database, increasing the value of the company.

For many years, it has been observed that Twitter users are a mix of genuine accounts, passive followers, users who have forgotten their accounts, and an underlying sea of anonymous bots operated by corporations and governments. The latter embraces social media like dark matter, permeating everything while remaining difficult to observe.

To determine the true value of Twitter, Elon Musk has sought clarity on the quality of the user database – something that he claims has been exaggerated when the terms of purchase were set out.

Quoted in the documents filed by Musk’s attorney:

‘While Section 6.4 of the Merger Agreement requires Twitter to provide Mr. Musk and his advisors all data and information that Mr. Musk requests “for any reasonable business purpose related to the consummation of the transaction”, Twitter has not complied with its contractual obligations. For nearly two months, Mr. Musk has sought the data and information necessary to “make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform”.

‘This information is fundamental to Twitter’s business and financial performance and is necessary to consummate the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement because it is needed to ensure Twitter’s satisfaction of the conditions to closing, to facilitate Mr. Musk’s financing and financial planning of the transaction, and to engage in transition planning for the business.

‘Twitter has failed or refused to provide this information. Sometimes Twitter has ignored Mr. Musk’s requests, sometimes it has rejected them for reasons that appear to be unjustified, and sometimes it has claimed to comply while giving Mr. Musk incomplete or unusable information.’

The short of it is that if there are significantly more bots, Twitter isn’t worth as much.

You can’t sell shiny new Teslas to a server full of Russian code and you can’t influence the social fabric of society if the only people listening are North Koreans locked in a concrete bunker.

For all his flaws, at least Elon Musk sees the value in humanity.

Literally.

We don’t have barcodes, we have price tags – and for the moment, that’ll have to do.

It remains to be seen if Elon Musk gets to ‘flip the bird’ in the most literal and expensive way possible.

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