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Elon Musk Looks to Exit Twitter Takeover Based on Fake Profiles in the App

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Elon Musk Looks to Exit Twitter Takeover Based on Fake Profiles in the App

It’s now been six weeks since the Twitter Board agreed to a $44 billion hostile takeover offer from Elon Musk – so where are things placed at this stage?

After much speculation, it now appears that Musk is indeed looking to pull out of the deal entirely, according to a new SEC filing.

In a letter sent to Twitter’s Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde, Musk’s team has asserted that Twitter has breached the terms of the takeover deal by refusing to provide more insight into the number of fake profiles on its platform, which Twitter pegs at 5% of its active user count. Musk himself has publicly questioned this figure, and now, he appears to be looking to use this as a means to back out of his takeover bid.

As per the SEC note:

Based on Twitter’s behavior to date, and the company’s latest correspondence in particular, Mr. Musk believes the company is actively resisting and thwarting his information rights (and the company’s corresponding obligations) under the merger agreement. This is a clear material breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement.

Musk’s team says that, despite repeated requests, Twitter has refused to elaborate on this 5% figure, which Musk believes is far too low to be accurate. Musk’s team argues that the accuracy of this data is critical in securing financing for Elon’s Twitter bid, and if Twitter can’t provide more detail to reinforce this figure, that would be tantamount to a breach of the deal terms, which would enable Musk to exit his takeover push.

Which is not quite how Twitter sees it.

Twitter has argued that its 5% fake profile figure is accurate, based on its own sampling and reporting, through processes which have been accepted by the SEC in the past, and as such, that should be the agreed number under the terms of the deal.

In response to Musk’s latest SEC letter, Twitter has continued to stand by its position on this front:

“Twitter has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement. We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders. We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms.”

So can Musk actually pull out of the deal if he stands by the argument that Twitter’s fake profile counts are not right?

Well, maybe.

In his early push to accelerate his Twitter deal, Musk did waive various due diligence measures in order to hasten his takeover of the app, while there is a $1 billion break clause built into the deal’s terms which Musk would have to pay, one way or another. But most experts seem to be stumped as to whether Musk could use this clause as a deal-breaker – largely because really, Musk is probably right, and there probably is a lot more fake accounts and bots active on Twitter than the company is acknowledging.

Huge bot networks have been detected in the past, including some spanning over 500,000 fake accounts within a single cluster alone. Back in 2019, Wired reported that bot profiles were dominating political news streams, with bot profiles contributing up to 60% of tweet activity around some events, while in 2017, researchers from the University of Southern California and Indiana University found that around 48 million Twitter accounts were automated – amounting to 15% of active Twitter accounts.

Despite these findings, Twitter has consistently maintained that only 5% of accounts on its platform are fake, and that number has remained static since the company went public back in 2013.  

Which seems unlikely, right? I mean, how can that figure remain static all the way through?

Based on this, and the fact that Twitter’s ad business relies on the accuracy of its audience reach data, Musk would appear to have a case in arguing that if Twitter can’t provide more accurate figures, or a better explanation of its assessment, then that is a breach of the deal’s terms.

Musk has equated this to buying a house which turns out to be infested with termites.

“It seems like if you said, ‘Okay, I agree to buy your house.’ You say the house has less than 5% termites. That’s an acceptable number. But if it turns out it is 90% termites, that’s not okay. It’s not the same house.” 

Twitter’s not 90% bots, but the analogy makes some sense. And given that this is Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, there could well be a way for his team to argue a way out of the deal, if they so choose.

But it won’t be easy.

Again, Twitter will look to enforce the terms of the deal, including those elements that Musk has waived, and it’ll likely require many months of legal proceedings to come to any conclusion about whether Musk has to pay up.

Which would be disastrous for the company. The stress and uncertainty of the deal has already led to several top execs leaving the company, along with many other staff, and you can only imagine that a protracted legal battle will exacerbate the situation even further.

But it does seem like that’s where things are headed, with Musk refusing to pay, and Twitter refusing to elaborate – possibly because it can’t in any way that Musk’s team would accept.

Which could lead to a big mess at Twitter HQ, and ongoing problems for the company, in almost every way.  That will de-rail future plans, slow down development, change the app’s focus.

In any way you look at it, anything other than a Musk takeover now will leave Twitter with a significant mess to either manage in the interim, or deal with in the aftermath.  

What comes next is unclear, but six weeks in, we’re not close to a conclusion of the Elon Musk Twitter takeover drama just yet.

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer: Born or made great?

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The Big 3 have won a total of 56 Grand Slams in their career.

Ecogastronomy, puppet arts, viticulture and enology, influencer marketing, or bakery science. In 2022, you can become anything you want and there are even specialized undergraduate degrees to help you gain all the relevant skills at university. Essentially, you can now be academically trained in any subject and learn practically everything you need to excel at your job.

In the context of sports, and particularly tennis, this is no different. There are plenty of degrees you can pursue to complement your career as an athlete, physiotherapist, or coach with useful knowledge about the human body, anatomy, and health.

This basically means that professional tennis players of the 21st century can complement their extraordinary talent and training routine with a relevant education and an elite team of professional and eminent physiotherapists, coaches, PR, and strategists. Ultimately, players have countless tools that can help them win matches, stay healthy, and be well-liked by the press and the fans.

You can find these ‘A teams’ all around the tour nowadays: players of the former next gen have taken advantage of their early success to incorporate experts on every specialty into their team and others like Carlos Alcaraz or Holger Rune have come directly in the tour alongside first-class teams headed by former World No. 1 and Slam champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and respected coach Patrick Mouratoglou respectively.

Understandably, tennis legends who have been on tour for almost two decades have progressively adapted to the quest for perfection too. You must remember Novak Djokovic’s radical diet change mid-career or Rafael Nadal’s loyal sports doctor for most of his injury-prone career.

21st-century professional tennis players have learned it all as far as tennis skills are concerned. In fact, objectively any top-100 player can produce Djokovesque cross-court backhands or Nadalese down-the-line forehands any time – we have seen rallies of the highest level in practices, Challengers and junior tournaments.

So, one must think that if every player on the tour can produce top-level tennis and is surrounded by the perfect team, what is stopping them from winning 20+ Grand Slam titles like Nadal, Roger Federer, and Djokovic?


Nadal, Federer and Djokovic — the Big 3

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in discussion at the 2022 Laver Cup.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in discussion at the 2022 Laver Cup.

The Big 3 — Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic — are living proof that in life there are things you just can’t learn, despite our self-help books saying otherwise. Tennis is different from other mainstream sports in that it remains an individual and extremely mental sport.

These three players belong at a higher level than anyone else, and it is not only the 63 combined Slam titles that separate them from their opponents. It is clearly not their physical form either, quite the opposite currently. It is the ability to remain serene, focused, confident, and indifferent to the crowd, pressure, and expectations, to play one point at a time, whether it is a break or a championship point, and to extract it from the surrounding context.

Being the best of all time does, however, not imply being the better player in all matches. We don’t have to go far back to find an example of a time when Nadal and Djokovic were the clear underdogs in a match. For instance, in Wimbledon 2022 we saw Nadal win a match with an abdominal tear and an average 80-mph serve speed (on a grasscourt!) against Taylor Fritz, a top American player in his best-ever season.

In essence, the three GOATs have had the ability to know how to win even when they are the worst players on the court, and if that greatness is something we all could learn or train for, it would stop being called so and we would see it more often.

Whether it is the experience, intelligence or just intrinsic and unique talent that has led to Big 3’s unprecedented achievements we won’t ever exactly know and, I am afraid, they are giving no opportunity to the so-called Next Gen to even dream of replicating their record book and help us make sense of what it takes to become a tennis master.

In any case, we can only feel extremely fortunate to have lived on the same timeline as the greatest trivalry in sports history. All of us, but the Next Gen, can only hope Nadal and Djokovic do not follow Federer’s retirement path anytime soon. And one only needs to watch their last matches against each other to (rightfully) assume that might not happen anytime soon.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

Poll : Who will end up with most Grand Slam titles?

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Meta Could be Exploring Paid Blue Checkmarks on Facebook and Instagram

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Meta Could be Exploring Paid Blue Checkmarks on Facebook and Instagram

It seems like Elon Musk’s chaotic management approach at Twitter is having some broader impacts, with more companies reportedly considering lay-offs in the wake of Musk culling 70% of Twitter staff (and keeping the app running), and Meta now apparently also considering charging for blue checkmarks in its apps.

Yes, the Twitter Blue approach to making people pay for verification, which hasn’t proven overly popular on Twitter itself, is now also seemingly in consideration at Meta as well.

According to a new finding by reverse engineering pro Alessandro Paluzzi, there’s a new mention in the codebase of both Facebook and Instagram of a ‘paid blue badge’.

Paluzzi also shared a screenshot of the code with TechCrunch:

That does appear to refer to a subscription service for both apps, which could well give you a blue verification badge as a result.

Mets has neither confirmed nor denied the project, but it does seem, at least on the surface, that it’s considering offering checkmarks as another paid option – which still seems strange, considering the original purpose of verification, which is to signify noteworthy people or profiles in the app.

If people can just buy that, then it’s no longer of any value, right?

Evidently, that’s not the case, and with Twitter already bringing in around $7 million per quarter from Twitter Blue subscriptions, maybe Meta’s looking for a means to supplement its own intake, and make up for lost ad dollars and/or rising costs of its metaverse development.

It seems counter-intuitive, but I guess, if people will pay, and the platforms aren’t concerned about there being confusion as to what the blue ticks actually mean.

I guess, more money is good?

Meta has, in the past, said that it won’t charge a subscription fee to access its apps. But this, of course, would be supplemental – users wouldn’t have to pay, but they could buy a blue checkmark if they wanted, and use the implied value of recognition for their own purposes.

Which seems wrong, but tough times, higher costs – maybe every app needs to start digging deeper.

Meta hasn’t provided any info or confirmation at this stage, but we’ll keep you updated on any progress.



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YouTube Shorts Exceed 50B Daily Views, Meta’s Reels Doubles Plays 02/03/2023

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YouTube Shorts Exceed 50B Daily Views, Meta's Reels Doubles Plays 02/03/2023

YouTube Shorts and Meta’s Reels are both making
headway in the intensely competitive video shorts sector.  

During Alphabet’s Q4 earnings call on Thursday, CEO Sundar Pichai reported that YouTube Shorts has surpassed 50 billion
daily views. That’s up from the 30 billion reported in Q1 2022.

However, it still …



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