back to article Elon Musk puts Twitter deal on hold over bot numbers claim

Elon Musk has hit the brakes on his proposed takeover of Twitter in light of the platform's insistence that spam accounts accounted for less than five percent of its daily active users. The figure was raised in an SEC filing on Monday, the company's latest earning release [PDF], where it said "there are a number of false or …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    I rather think Musk's brain has finally caught up with his mouth, and is looking for something to squeeze out of the deal over or looking to lower the initial cost of the take over.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Musk wrecked the Tesla share price trying to showboat this deal (420 is a US cannabis reference) and now he has torpedoed the Twitter share price. He might not be stupid but he is a charlatan.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: He might not be stupid

        My, are you a generous soul.

        He's got money, and that's all he's got.

        He's got no class, he's got no refinement, he's barely cultured and he's got no reserve. He's a mouthpiece on steroids and he's got all the money for all the steroids he wants.

        There is absolutely nothing interesting in him, if not for the fact that he is almost single-handedly bringing Humanity back into space.

        That is his only redeeming feature, and I will give him that.

        1. Zolko Silver badge

          Re: He might not be stupid

          the fact that he is almost single-handedly bringing Humanity back into space.

          what do you mean by that ? Russian never stopped going into space, and lately Chinese have been doing it repeatedly so. Do you implicitly try to say that Humanity = USA ? And you even try to sell this as "fact " ????

          1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

            Re: He might not be stupid

            This is, of course, without even mentioning existence of Virgin Galactic, whatever Bezos effort is called, as well as the European Space Agency. But we could be here all day if we start down that road.

          2. Bbuckley

            Re: He might not be stupid

            And Russia never developed their Soyuz technology beyond the 1960's. And China simply copied Soyuz. Neither of these come within an asses roar of SpaceX technology.

        2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

          Re: He might not be stupid

          Pascal Monett: And what has Elon Musk ever done for us?!

          XERXES: PayPal?

          Pascal Monett: What?

          XERXES: PayPal.

          Pascal Monett: Oh. Yeah, yeah. He did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

          COMMANDO #3: And Tesla.

          LORETTA: Oh, yeah, Tesla, Pascal. Remember what electric cars used to be like?

          Pascal Monett: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you PayPal and Tesla are two things that Elon Musk has done.

          MATTHIAS: And SpaceX.

          Pascal Monett: Well, yeah. Obviously SpaceX. I mean, SpaceX goes without saying, don't they? But apart from PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX--

          COMMANDO: OpenAI?.

          XERXES: SolarCity.

          COMMANDO #2: StarLink!

          Pascal Monett: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

          COMMANDO #1: And he proved you can call someone a peado and get away with it.

          COMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah...

          FRANCIS: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Pascal, if Elon Musk left.

          Pascal Monett: All right, but apart from PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, OpenAI, SolarCity, StarLink and the ability to call someone a peado and get away with it, what has Elon Musk ever done for us?

          XERXES: He does have a buttload of cash, Pascal.

          Pascal Monett: Shut up!

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: He might not be stupid

            Elon had stock in Paypal that he received through a company (zip2?) that wound up part of PayPal through acquisitions. He wasn't involved in it at any level.

            Tesla was founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Elon invested money, took the Chairman position and encouraged the founders to go missing.

            SpaceX is mostly a rehash of technologies long since perfected. Get a hold of a copy of Rocket Propulsion Elements by Gary Sutton and look again at what SpaceX does, not a big difference. Even NASA was landing rockets in the 60's, except NASA was doing it on the moon (Surveyor missions).

            I've seen several people breakdown the prospects of Starlink and none of them give 1 chance in 10. Not even a loonie would take the bet. Works great in the middle of nowhere, but isn't likely to work very well in places where there are lots of people (where the money is). Not much of the world where internet is hard to get can't afford the pile of money Starlink costs. They are also in more need of clean water as well.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: He might not be stupid

              You've not been to northern italy, have you. There's almost NO DSL to speak of, and I'm lucky to get EDGE where my house is...

              However, please continue with your "opinion"

            2. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: He might not be stupid

              >>>Works great in the middle of nowhere<<<

              Any military looking for a deniable fast reliable comms system for black ops?

              Is there any possibility that the whole Starlink thing is just V1 (get it working properly*) with V2 planned to be over Mars with much longer time on station at these altitudes for the individual mini-sats?

              A bit like reusable Falcon being the precursor to Starship.

              Bringing in cash to offset the setup cost doesn't hurt either.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: He might not be stupid

                "Any military looking for a deniable fast reliable comms system for black ops?"

                There is an Achilles heel. Not all of the Starlink satellites have laser interconnects and they are in a low Earth orbit. Many don't realize that the internet isn't carried on satellites. It's routed through terrestrial cables and fiber. This means that the Starlink system is a bounce link from the consumer to a ground stations that tie into the existing internet backbones. Take out one of those ground stations and it's game over for a swath of users in an area. While Starlink satellites might go over China, it could be useless over much of China if those satellites can't see and link to a ground station. The same goes for Russia. The DPRK might be doable with ground stations in South Korea since it's a relatively small country. The fanfare surrounding Elon shipping consumer kits to the Ukraine with people thinking it's bullet proof aren't aware that most of them could be blocked by Russian troops destroying or taking control of a ground station or two. They'd be better off with HughesNet or Viasat where the satellites are in geostationary orbits and don't need a close by downlink facility. The military has their own set up that should be more robust and the bandwidth reserved for military use rather than cat videos and that other programming that seems to be so popular.

            3. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: He might not be stupid

              > [Starlink] isn't likely to work very well in places where there are lots of people (where the money is).

              Where you have lots of people you also have fibre optic, 4/5G and microwave links. Starlink, like other satellite communication systems, is intended for where there not lots of people

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: He might not be stupid

              You (MachDiamond) are confusing zip2 and x.com . Musk was a co-founder of both of these but x.com was the bank/financial one. x.com merged with a competitor and then changed its name to paypal.

              So he was very much involved at several levels.

              Your understanding of rocket engineering seems similarly flawed. The idea that landing on the moon is in any way comparable to the issue of rockets landing on earth and then being reused is completely ridiculous.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: He might not be stupid

                "Your understanding of rocket engineering seems similarly flawed. The idea that landing on the moon is in any way comparable to the issue of rockets landing on earth and then being reused is completely ridiculous."

                You might be very surprised how much I know about launching and landing rockets on Earth and reusing them over and over and over again. No, I never worked at SpaceX or Blue Origin.

        3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: He might not be stupid

          That's a whole list of "features" of US presidential candidates so if he owns Twitter and gets elected then there's no risk of losing his account.

        4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: He might not be stupid

          bringing Humanity back into space.

          Or could it be he's trying to get home?

          "As well as serving in the SS and a second act as a Nasa engineer, Wernher von Braun wrote a Martian sci-fi novel with a prescient twist…"

          https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/14/wernher-von-braun-former-ss-officer-nazi-us-space-programme-nasa-apollo

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        re: he is a charlatan.

        A snake oil salesman and a flim-flam artist all rolled into one.

        I have to wonder how much due diligence he did before making the purchase announcement? If the chickens are coming home to roost and he ends up bailing out could he be liable for a whole raft of lawsuits? Or even another SEC investigation?

        He should learn to shut his gob and just get on with running Tesla and Space-X

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: re: he is a charlatan.

          There's a $billion dollar penalty against whichever side choose to walk away from the deal.

          1. fwthinks
            Pirate

            Re: re: he is a charlatan.

            His original offer was $54.20 which valued the company at $44 billion. The current share price of approx $40 would mean a company value of approx $33 billion. He is probably willing to lose that odd billion and go back with a lower offer to save several billion.

            He has already get the company into a position where everyone has accepted it will be sold and will not fight anymore, now he can go in with his lowball offer.

            1. hoola Silver badge

              Re: re: he is a charlatan.

              And from what i understand senior positions are already leaving, not voluntarily. So if that is the case, who is doing the pushing?

          2. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: re: he is a charlatan.

            I for one hope he walks away from Twitter... even if it costs him a billion. It'll be better for Twitter.

        2. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: re: he is a charlatan.

          Well he *IS* a used rocket salesman...

      3. hoola Silver badge

        Given is past reputation on things like this the chances are that however much has is alleged to "lose" through selling and share prices dropping, he will still make money.

        Why his statements and dealings have note been dealt with more thoroughly is baffling.

    2. Glen Turner 666

      With the fall in the stock price of Tesla, the cost of Musk's funding for the acquisition of Twitter has risen -- Musk will need to stake more of his Tesla shares to purchase Twitter. One way to address that situation is to require less funding in the first place. Raising doubt about Twitter's number of users and the level of misuse of the platform are both ways to do that.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        No, this is all part of the scam. He has apparently already sold billions in shares for the purchase of twitter. The purchase was just an excuse to minimize the impact on Tesla stock when he sold it.

        If he just sold it, or even worse told the truth that he's selling while the shares are grossly overpriced by 100x (or is it 80x now, I don't follow Telsa stock) then the stock would have really tanked

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          I saw reports that Musk had suckered more investors into his bid, so may not need to take a margin loan against his Tesla stock. Which I guess makes things slightly safer for other Tesla speculators.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            With the recent drop in Tesla stock, he may not have enough margin left to keep banks happy. They don't just want a pledge of stock that covers the loan, but enough to exceed the amount to cover fluctuations.

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            From the UK media reports, it seems he isn't getting a queue of investors, so suspect Musk is manufacturing a reason to walk away.

  2. sml156

    Taking bets on the real number

    LOL 5%

    More like 30%

    People who singed up but have not posted even 1 time 25%

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Taking bets on the real number

      Saw the headline and thought was he complaining about that there was not enough bots?

      1. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: Taking bets on the real number

        Musk knows exactly how many bot followers he has paid to have, so he thinks that ratio is equal to all Twitter accounts.

    2. ilmari

      Re: Taking bets on the real number

      My first thought was that he underestimated the amount of real people who are dumber than bots.

      Banning dumber-than-bots people would probably be a benefit to the platform, but obviously not in line with free speech.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Taking bets on the real number

        > the amount of real people who are dumber than bots

        No matter how intelligent, real people have more money to spend than any bot.

        Don't forget he's not buying a heap of servers and some software, he's buying a load of humans, and he has to make sure they are all still alive and indeed people, not cardboard cutouts.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Taking bets on the real number

          "Don't forget he's not buying a heap of servers and some software"

          Yes, he'd be buying a brand as well along with a heap of personal information on a load of people. I have to wonder what the profiles look like for the bots.

          In a fire sale, the servers would have some recycling value if Twitter owns them directly. The software may not be that valuable and the PII has a shelf life if it isn't sale-able due to regulations. Other than that, all of the value is in the brand and being a going concern. This all means that anybody lending money or investing themselves don't have much liquidation value should things go south. Buying a big industrial company that creates wealth by taking raw materials and adding value to them usually has lots of tangible assets and numerous divisions that can be sold. A company such as Adobe has a big installed user base and, if bought, there was a downturn, some poorer performing titles could be sold off or discontinued to save costs. It's not very likely their business would go from industry leader to "also ran" in a year the same way that can happen with Social Media when a new site heaves into view.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The's buying a load of humans

          This is one human who wishes to have nothing to do with Twitter, Fecalbook etc AND any business where Lord Muck is involved.

          If that disqualifies me from ever owning a Tesla then great. AFAIK, he has done that several times to people who have pissed him off on social media.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Taking bets on the real number

        If he does eventually buy Twitter and switch to a charging model, is it still Free Speech?

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Taking bets on the real number

          Well, companies and governments will be able to use the Texas law against Twitter, as long as there is more than 50 million users (real or bots)

    3. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Taking bets on the real number

      I originally signed up because I needed to write a twitter client. I only follow a handful of companies but I have quite a few attractive young "women" who follow me. Who knows, some of them might even exist, some might actually be female, but all of them are scams of some sort.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Taking bets on the real number

      Accounts in general in these social networks and cloud services in general that are fake or dead most probably up north of 50%. But monetizable accounts that means active and browsing content to consume adds may be less and 5% may be reasonable. Hey almost all my FB friends have locked several times their accounts and open a new one. People die and their accounts survive so the question is why these companies never clean up those dead accounts and if they are used both to boost their valuation and also to charge advertisers with their own internal bots. To me more should be looked at dead accounts than bots that render content. Most of the boys just post content and they do not bother parsing and rendering content and even if they do they are well done to actually consume any advertising content.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Taking bets on the real number

        The real number is 0% of the monetizable accounts are fake. Oh wait, the advertisers are paying even if the accounts being served are fake.... The real number is 100% of the fake accounts are monetizable. (Aside: We can't put *that* on an earnings report.) I'm confused. What does twitter do differently for a non-monetizable account?

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Taking bets on the real number

          "Oh wait, the advertisers are paying even if the accounts being served are fake...."

          Ad rates are usually calculated based on headcount (See Dilbert). A magazine can charge and get higher prices for advertising if they have a high subscriber count and it's audited. The only way around that if for magazines that cater to people with lots and lots of money (Robb Report). Very niche magazines such as Architectural Digest can get very high ad rates as every architectural firm will be a subscriber. If you supply that business sector, you would know that your ad will be seen by the people that will specify your product in their designs. Very nice since once plans are approved, it's really hard to substitute.

          For Social Media, the count is based on users. Maybe even "active" users, but bots will always be active users. People with accounts that aren't active may return if prodded and see/remember ads so there is still a chance with them. Never a chance of a sale to a bot.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Taking bets on the real number

        "People die and their accounts survive".

        This is an interesting one that in reality nobody has really figured out how to deal with. I know of profiles on LinkedIn where people have died and the profiles are still there not even updated, just dormant.

        As time goes on this is just going to get worse as more people who have accounts die, or just abandon them.

        That in many cases dealing with digital information after someone has died is simply beset with utterly insane demands for documentation, far beyond what is required for probate or legal issues has to be dealt with (yes Apple, you are at the top of the heap).

        Bluntly, one a digital ID has been setup, you or your estate do not own it, the corporation does and the relay on people giving up because it is too difficult.

    5. BOFH in Training Bronze badge

      Re: Taking bets on the real number

      Thats me, signed up years ago without a single twit or retwit.

      Just to follow some people / organisations on twitter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Taking bets on the real number

        I was told the only reason to sign up on Twitter was so you can publicly complain about companies - the idea is that they will respond quicker than a private email

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Taking bets on the real number

      Even if the 5% figure is close to accurate, 5% may sound small but that's still something in the region of 3 meellion Twitter bots. THREE!!! MEELION!!! sounds a lot more scary than "something less than 5%".

    7. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Taking bets on the real number

      I dropped my account ages ago. It was too hard to keep up with sorting through tweets if I followed more than a few people. I'd rather visit places where there is more of the sort of things I'm interested in. I also tend to be long winded and abhor random abbreviations.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alien

    Only 5%

    And I have a colony on Mars to sell you…

    1. sml156

      Re: Only 5%

      Shut up and take my money, Do you have any spots near Deuteronilus Mensae available still I hear that's the best spot to live

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Only 5%

        I'm undecided between having a really good view of Olympus Mons caldera or being above the high cliffs on its southern flank.

        Actually, I'll take both, they're only 150 or so miles apart.

        1. Winkypop Silver badge

          Re: Only 5%

          Re: “ Olympus Mons”

          Sorry, Olympus Mons Heights pre-sold years ago. There’s a new release at Elysium Planitia though.

      2. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

        Re: Only 5%

        No no, longterm thinking needed it's all cheap at the moment i've got my option in for all 40km of the Dorsa Brevia structure.

        Thats ecoeconomics for you ;-)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Only 5%

          "No no, longterm thinking needed it's all cheap at the moment i've got my option in for all 40km of the Dorsa Brevia structure."

          Let me know when you have subdivisions ready for bidding. With the lack of an atmosphere and no magnetic field, I'll want several meters of solid rock between me and the sun. Besides, domes can get punctures.

  4. AlanSh

    It'll cost him to back out

    I vaguely remember a figure of $1b which he has to pay if he pulls out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It'll cost him to back out

      Source? No contract has been signed yet, meaning no punitive terms can be applied.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It'll cost him to back out

        https://www.reuters.com/technology/musk-may-have-pay-1-billion-if-he-terminates-twitter-deal-filing-2022-04-26/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It'll cost him to back out

          if the deal falls through because the equity, debt and or margin loan financing needed is not funded

          He's already got the funding, though. If the deal falls through because Twitter made false claims about their spam bot problem, that's an entirely different matter. They haven't mentioned any other conditions, which makes me suspect that this condition wouldn't fall under it.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: It'll cost him to back out

            "He's already got the funding, though."

            Maybe not due to the plunge in Tesla stock value. To get the money now could mean having to pledge more shares if he has enough unencumbered left to do that. If he has enough, he may not want to totally tap the pot.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It'll cost him to back out

              Unless he can push them down on the price by pointing out that they basically lied about their bot population. Which they did. Everyone knows it.

              Besides which, he's only the frontman. He's got a bunch of investors with him who are covering the majority of the buyout price. The tesla share price is a red herring.

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: It'll cost him to back out

            >If the deal falls through because Twitter made false claims about their spam bot problem, that's an entirely different matter.

            The laugh is that the "free speech" platforms Musk is awe of, had significantly more spam than Twitter....

  5. pluraquanta

    "...fewer than 5 percent of our mDAU [monetizable daily active users]"

    Is it just me or does that sound like they excluded users who aren't monetizable daily active users... as in bots?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: "...fewer than 5 percent of our mDAU [monetizable daily active users]"

      I read a handful of people's posts on a reasonably regular basis, but I don't have an account (though the nagging has become much more noticeable of late) and I've never seen any advertising apart from the promoted content in the "What's Happening?" box in the sidebar.

      It's a mystery to me how any of their users are "monetizable".

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: "...fewer than 5 percent of our mDAU [monetizable daily active users]"

      "users who aren't monetizable daily active users"

      Not just bots. Add "people who were forced to sign up because that's the only way you can contact some shit businesses - the even less palatable alternative being Faecebook"

    3. lglethal Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "...fewer than 5 percent of our mDAU [monetizable daily active users]"

      There's definitely weasel words in use here.

      I would suggest that most bots do not post daily - they do a flurry of activity around a certain activity and then go silent until the next campaign. As such, they would not be included in the mDAU figures.

      So they've basically chosen a group that is unrepresentative of bots, and declared that amongst that group they dont have many bots! Success!

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "...fewer than 5 percent of our mDAU [monetizable daily active users]"

        "I would suggest that most bots do not post daily - they do a flurry of activity around a certain activity and then go silent until the next campaign. As such, they would not be included in the mDAU figures."

        That might not be the case. Many people will get active for a bit around a cause they are passionate about and then go silent when they've spent too much time tweeting and not enough meeting a deadline on a project at work. Whoops. They wind up going silent for a bit to catch up with work/life.

        If I was running a botnet, I'd always have stuff in the funnel. Even if it were my own scam rather than one somebody is paying me to do. I see the most stupid memes going around from time to time that get pushed in all sorts of places. One right now is that your liver might be damaged for one reason or another if you have some vague symptom that might just be heartburn from a really hot curry or from eating a big plate of asparagus. Lots of setups with quotes from some "leading doctors" and links to articles on a web sites that were set up a couple of weeks ago. You can then sell your bot services to a company selling supplements or "treatments" to put your liver right again.

  6. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Trollface

    If Elon want's to eliminate spam bots from Twitter, why is he critizing the ban of the Orange One?

    1. Def Silver badge

      I want to upvote you, but that errant apostrophe is preventing me from doing so. ;)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Trollface

        Bad excuse. Bots don't use apostrophes.

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          Wants vs. want's

      2. sreynolds Bronze badge

        Ah go on. Don't be a grammar Nazi.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Well, obviously I did anyway.

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Elon says "There's spam on twitter?"

    "I'm shocked to discover this previously unknown fact! "

    Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of "Elon's Excuse".

    1. sreynolds Bronze badge

      Re: Elon says "There's spam on twitter?"

      Yeah like "I was really high on weed when I decided to make the offer"?

  8. breakfast
    Boffin

    Alternative sources

    Looking at Bot Sentinel's numbers here ( https://botsentinel.com/stats/platform-stats ) they classify around 24% of users as 'Disruptive' or 'Problematic' - obviously this is very finger-in-the-air, I've seen some plausible accounts in the 'Disruptive' category (but also many probable bots in 'Satisfactory') - but if we imagine that there's some bias towards Bot behaviour in the accounts it is asked to analyse and it still seems plausible that we're looking at something closer to ~20% of users being bots.

    A 2017 study -more rigorous than my guesswork but less current - suggested it was in the region of 15% at that point. ( https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.03107.pdf )

    Whatever the source, it seems everyone outside Twitter is estimating significantly more bot users than Twitter are, which may explain a lot about why the hellsite is so full of goddamn bots.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "take the team in a different direction"

    You can take Twitter in whatever direction you want, buddy. I'll never be interested.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "take the team in a different direction"

      I'm sure there's a lot of people who'd happily tell Elon where he can take twitter.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is the bot that tracks his helicopter still on there?

  11. GruntyMcPugh

    Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

    I think the whole thing is just a vehicle (pun intended) for liquidating some of his Tesla shares, while trying to keep the panic factor in the markets minimised. If he just sold off stock, that could make people lose confidence, but if he portrays a need to liquidate, well, people might fall for that, and not panic. He knows his stock in Tesla is over valued, and it's a good time to cash in. He lost something like $17Bn when the Tesla stock price dropped, to cash out, $8.4Bn was it? So a 50% exchange rate from vapour to hard cash seems like a reasonable exchange rate. But the idea he sells shares in a profitable company to buy a loss making one doesn't make sense to me.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

      sells shares in a profitable company

      if you mean Tesla by that, I remember reading that they are actually loosing money on every car they make, and the company is only "profitable " because other car manufacturers pay penalties – to Tesla – for not making their CO2 targets. The infamous "carbon tax" or "carbon stock exchange" or something like that.

      1. Def Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

        They have a gross profit margin of ~29% per vehicle.

        https://www.notebookcheck.net/Tesla-reveals-how-much-a-Model-Y-or-Model-3-cost-to-make-reports-envious-profit-margins.596747.0.html

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

        "only "profitable " because other car manufacturers pay penalties – to Tesla – for not making their CO2 targets."

        There is a rumor that GM loses money on every Bolt they sell (aside from the battery recall which is LG anyway). This is why they limit production. They get carbon credits that make it possible to sell giant trucks and SUV with sky high profit margins and pay less than what they have to pay Tesla to buy some of theirs. I see the whole carbon credit scheme as government mucking up something that only makes things worse as people game the system.

    2. ilmari

      Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

      Well what's the point of buying a profitable company that does well at everything it does? There's nothing to fix in that.

    3. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

      I've been saying this since his first twitter poll about selling telsa shares. He wants to take profit before the Tesla bubble bursts.

      No sane person would think that a company about the size of Subaru is worth more than the 10 biggest auto makes combined.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

        All this focussing on Tesla's losses in the auto market loses sight of the issue that Tesla isn't an automaker

        And by that, I mean that Tesla is a battery maker that happens to sell cars wrapped around (some of) the battery packs. Carmaking wasn't intended to be a long term core business activity, but a means to an end - "creating a market for the GIgafactories". Eventually what those will be turning out is components for automakers to integrate into their own vehicles

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

          Tesla doesn't have any special sauce for building batteries no one else has access to, so why should any major automaker buy from Tesla rather than set up their own battery factories?

          Batteries are (for now at least) a large enough portion of the cost and important enough to performance/range that no major company is going to allow a third party (let alone a competitor) to extract profits as a middleman on such an important component. Same reason major companies have designed their own engines for years.

          While I could see automakers buy from Tesla for a short time as they get their EVs off the ground, once they are all-in they will have their own factory building their own batteries designed by their own battery R&D engineers.

          We can hope that someday they become a commodity item and a small enough percentage of the cost of an EV that it isn't worth it to keep in house, but that day is years away if ever.

          1. Blank Reg Silver badge

            Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

            And there are so many companies, both large and small working on the next big battery breakthrough that it's almost certain that someone else beats Tesla in finding the secret sauce that takes ev batteries to the next level.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

            "Tesla doesn't have any special sauce for building batteries no one else has access to, so why should any major automaker buy from Tesla rather than set up their own battery factories?"

            Nobody is buying battery cells from Tesla. In the US, Panasonic makes them for Tesla and in China it's three companies that supply them. I haven't heard where they'll source for production in Germany. The plant in Texas may also be using Panasonic batteries, but Tesla is building out production to bring it in house. I don't see that as a good move. It also means needing to feed and water a top notch engineering team and pray some improvement or breakthrough doesn't obsolete all their production equipment.

            A look at energy densities of Li batteries in comparison to other energetic (explosive) compounds makes it pretty clear that there isn't a lot of room for that specification to grow all that much. Any breakthroughs are more likely to affect safety, longevity and cost. Once somebody figures something out, the patent will outline what they've done and there are places on this planet, very large places, that don't necessarily uphold IP rights of foreign entities. Chances are that the breakthrough will be in that very large place as so much battery manufacturing is being done there. It's darn near impossible for a company that decouples their R&D from manufacturing to progress very well. R&D only companies are thin on the ground for component level materials where improvements are very incremental.

            1. KSM-AZ

              Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

              I would expect to see a two-fold (maybe three) increase in density in 5 years. Several tech companies are claiming to have lab'ed new battery tech. One out of Australia is shipping prototypes, and ramping up for pouch batteries. I expect some mass production hurdles, but like the flat screen LCD panel, there is a huge market for several big players, and the technology is evolving rapidly on several fronts. Expect to see a reduction in the need for 'Rare Earth's as things progress as well.

              Lithum ION is the near term solution, and will likely be on-ramping some of the aforementioned items like safety and longevity before sodium and aluminum et. al. technologies become viable. It's going to be interesting I think.

        2. Winkypop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

          “Tesla is a battery maker” and those batteries are made by Panasonic.

          Hmmmm

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Did Musk ever really intend to buy Twitter?

        "I've been saying this since his first twitter poll about selling telsa shares. He wants to take profit before the Tesla bubble bursts."

        The vast amount of Elon's "wealth" is on paper. He sold a whole bunch of Tesla shares as the price was too ludicrous to not take advantage of when he knew he'd need cash later in 2022 to exercise options to buy more stock at a super discounted rate. The cash had to some from somewhere and those options he held would have expired. By the end of this year, Elon's stake in Tesla might be considerably higher if he doesn't need to spend his own cash to prop up SpaceX.

  12. TeeCee Gold badge

    ...frustratingly opaque in how it had come up with the spam bot figure.

    Translation:

    They won't tell anyone just whose arse they pulled this out of.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "They won't tell anyone just whose arse they pulled this out of."

      Politics. Never go looking for something you don't want to find.

  13. You aint sin me, roit
    Facepalm

    Due diligence...

    Maybe he should have thought about it before buying 9% on the quiet. Or making an offer to buy the company.

    Though he must have had some idea, because getting rid of the bots was one of his "reasons" for taking Twitter private.

    Or is it just a smokescreen because he's feeling a little over-exposed?

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Due diligence...

      Due diligence is for the weak, just pay up and litigate later if you end up paying to much, is it the American way!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "defeat the spam bots or die trying"

    Yes please! Either or both.

  15. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Row

    This feels a bit like those times when you want to split up with someone but haven't got the balls to tell them to their face so you construct a row over something trivial like cleaning the bathroom to precipitate it.

  16. DenTheMan

    Elon strikes again. Jam today

    "

    What a catalyst you turned out to be....

    Hello-hooray, what a nice day, for the Elon rifles, Elon rifles

    Hello-hooray, I hope rain stops play, with the Elon rifles, Elon rifles

    "

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Elon Trifles, maybe?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Genius at work ????

    Or not ?

    If anyone believes that no more than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake, then I have a bridge for you.

    No way could Musk have swallowed that BS when he started this process. But since Twitters "value" is really just a function of it's real users, he kept it quiet.

    No doubt all at Twitter towers were buying trebles all round when they believed they had got away with it.

    Then this gazumping.

    Even if Musk walks away, he'll have holed Twitter below the waterline as their new cloths are exposed to all.

    (It may or may not be coincidental, but Twitters value as a CEO hotline seems to be waning. Companies aren't fussed about being dissed in the Twitterverse anymore)

  18. bpfh

    Geoip and profile country matching for a start.

    an issue I had when managing a dating site: if your profile says for example you are Jane Doe from Scunthorpe looking to meet locals from your area but your signup address says you are from an ISP in Ivory Coast, India or Vietnam, then you go onto the naughty list and have some explaining to do. If the explanation is valid then fine, you valid user check mark, otherwise you may sign up but nobody will see your posts or something.

    It's not perfect and can be vpn'd around, and there may be legit reasons for this sort of connection, but is a big red flag especially for non-professional accounts.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Geoip and profile country matching for a start.

      "your profile says for example you are Jane Doe from Scunthorpe looking to meet locals from your area"

      I see two possibilities. (1) Someone who is not a woman from Scunthorpe is trolling on twitter and I don't want to get involved. (2) Someone who *is* a woman from Scunthorpe is trolling on twitter and I *really* don't want to get involved. The basic problem with twitter is not that the fake accounts are bad, it's that the real accounts are worse. At a minimum level of badness, I don't want to waste any time with real people who think tweets are generally amusing, interesting, informative, or a good way to get a date. But there's no maximum level of badness, as TheRealDonaldTrump demonstrated to perfection -- every single tweet was a blatant manipulation.

  19. First Light Silver badge

    Musk should know

    Tesla has tons of bots on Twitter, allegedly helping to manipulate its share price. It appears to be closer to a cult than a car manufacturer.

    https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-04-12/musk-is-off-the-twitter-board-of-directors-the-tesla-twitter-bot-army-marches-on

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Musk should know

      "Tesla has tons of bots on Twitter"

      I have no way to know if that's true, but it is one of those things that is so easy to believe.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Musk should know

        That is why EM wants to check the numbers provided by Twitter, because he knows that Tesla bots already are over 5% of the daily active Twitter users...

  20. DS999 Silver badge

    I wonder what will happen

    If Musk backs out of the deal, using the spam bots as an excuse or fail to get Twitter to lower the price enough if he feels he should pay less due to the tech market downturn between the time of his offer and now (let alone where it may be by the time the deal could close)

    Will all those on the right currently fawning over him as the savior of their orange god turn on him for turning their back on them? Or will it be added to their conspiracy addled brains, and we'll see claims that George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi sent a hit squad to threaten his mom and give him an ultimatum to back down on the purchase?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: I wonder what will happen

      Both. In my limited experience of the nutzoid right, using logic that was internally self consistent was neither necessary nor wanted. So they'll turn on him for turning on them as he was too weak to stand up to Soros, the lizard men, etc etc.

  21. Grunchy Bronze badge

    Make your own Twitter. “Twitter” is for ‘twits,’ after all!

  22. DJ
    Coat

    Yawn...

    Does anyone really care except Musk?

    Reaches for the one uncontaminated with anti-social media...

  23. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Is that too high ... or too low for him?

    Reminds me of...

    https://genius.com/Jackson-browne-cocaine-lyrics

    1. KSM-AZ

      Re: Is that too high ... or too low for him?

      It takes a clear mind to make it.

  24. xyz

    The way I heard it was...

    Google advertising growth is flat-lining and everyone is jumping on the "social" bandwagon, so I suppose El Musko sees a few future schekels in Twitter. I'm still trying to get over the horror that befell me last night on YouTube. Thought I'd watch the Klendathu drop scene from Starship Troopers and BANG! an effin great fullscreen advert jumped at me right at the good bit. And these idiots think I'm going to contemplate a purchase instead of just pissing me off. Didn't mean to rant, it sort of just happened.

  25. willyslick

    Just another narcissist looking for some attention.....nothing to see here.

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