How weird could things get if Twitter and Elon Musk settle?

Like Elon Musk’s imbued with Twitter move from meeting room to courtroomone might expect that, under the supervision of the Delaware Premier Court, things will follow a more predictable trajectory so far.

Theoretically, litigation that the social media platform launched Tuesday to force Musk to comply with its acquisition offer, presenting a limited set of possible outcomes: Musk could be forced to shut down at the rate the agreed price is $44 billion; pay a $1 billion termination fee to exit the agreement; cough up some intermediate prices that the court decides; or escape completely unscathed.

However, if there is one lesson to be learned from all that has happened so far, it is that there are no guarantees, even in the face of binding contracts, federal regulations and precedent. history, when it comes to the richest man in the world. Paying is still an option – some experts even say it’s likely – and will open up a whole new menu of options. Here are some of them.

Non-Dispute Agreement

Musk has never been one to stop criticizing Twitter, despite being one of the platform’s biggest users.

He has spin around Its content moderation policy was undemocratic, campaigned for major changes to both the company’s product and business model, and was consistently critical of its handling of its automated spam program. website (“Twitter’s most annoying problem”, he used to Written).

Signing an agreement for him to buy the platform didn’t bore those idiots. In a tweet that Twitter included in its lawsuit, he responded to CEO Parag Agrawal’s comment with nothing more than emoji “poop”.

“Since signing the merger agreement, Musk has repeatedly denigrated Twitter and the agreement, creating business risks for Twitter and downward pressure on its stock price,” the company complained in the filing. This is despite a provision of the agreement requiring that Musk’s tweets “must not discredit the Company or any Company Representative”.

Charles Elson, founding director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance, said it wouldn’t be unusual for that kind of deal to become part of a long-term deal. “You can have a non-discrimination agreement” in such cases, he said. “I wouldn’t be shocked.”

“He’s not going to denigrate Twitter, they’re not going to denigrate him,” Elson added. “It would be a mutual non-discrimination.”

Of course, whether Musk actually abides by those terms is an entirely different question.

Confidential Agreement

Additionally, on the table could be some type of non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, that would limit what one or both parties can publicly share about the repeated relationship they have entered into since then. from the beginning of April.

“I could certainly see an NDA that would keep certain terms secret and allow one party to ‘save face’,” said Alex Bruno, founder of Glendale-based law firm Bruno Group.

However, Twitter may still have to disclose some information because it is publicly traded, Bruno added.

The event could prove particularly compelling for Twitter because, according to the lawsuit, the company granted Musk substantial access to business information in its transactions, including about 49 tebibytes of mobile data. raw history.

Then again, it seems Musk is currently tied up by some sort of NDA and doesn’t seem to care about that. “The Twitter Legal Department just called to complain that I violated their NDA by disclosing the bot test sample size to be 100!” he Written in a tweet in May, referring to his attempt to replicate estimates of bot popularity on Twitter.

A non-compete agreement?

One potential threat to Twitter is that if Musk doesn’t end this story as the platform’s owner, he could continue an idea he’s toyed with in the past: competition. with the company on its own terms.

In a tweet this March, he request what to do about Twitter’s content moderation policies, which he considers undemocratic. In the sequel, he offers a possible course of action: “Need a new platform?”

At the end of that day he more“I’m seriously thinking about this.”

Now, with the benefit of seeing some of Twitter’s inner workings first hand – and enjoying months of free press on how he runs a social network he’s in charge of – Musk is very can revert to that option if he is not prohibited from doing so.

While Twitter alternatives have historically struggled to enter the mainstream, this is a threat that Twitter does not take lightly. In its lawsuit, the company notes that Musk has said he will “do one of three things with Twitter: sit on its board, buy it, or build a competitor” — the first. first he opts out and secondly he seems to be actively trying to avoid.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, a frequent commentator on Musk-Twitter, said: “The biggest wildcard scenario is that Musk needs to pay Twitter a huge payout figure in the range of 5 billion. to $10 billion and restricted from starting his own social media platform. saga, in an email to The Times. “It will be a twilight zone ending for this circus performance.”

Twitter policy changes

Musk could even use the settlement as an opportunity to push for some policy change – from highly political changes like the way Twitter censors user speech, to the kind of preferences that super users like him, including the addition of an “Edit Tweet” Button.

Even if such concessions come with a cash payment that he has to pay, they can give the public a chance to save some face.

But that’s an unlikely outcome, says Bruno.

“I don’t see a change in the site’s policies unless a lot of money comes from Twitter,” the lawyer wrote. However, he added, Twitter could still choose to make changes “to publicly show users that they are actively removing bots,” the focus of many of Musk’s criticisms.

Elson agrees. “I don’t think he will be able to change the way they do business. … After all, this is a business transaction; that is [about], ‘How much is this worth?’ That is all.”

But Ives is more open to this possibility.

“If Musk ends up being forced by the court to own Twitter,” he said, “there could be some content areas that are agreed upon as part of the settlement.”

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-07-16/what-could-happen-if-twitter-and-elon-musk-settle How weird could things get if Twitter and Elon Musk settle?

Edmund DeMarche

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