Twitter has to give Elon Musk only one bot checker’s data: its ex-product head


Musk, who has sought to cancel the deal, this month accused Twitter of hiding the names of workers who are specifically responsible for evaluating how much of the platform’s customer base is made up of spam and robot accounts. — Reuters

Twitter Inc doesn’t have to hand over to Elon Musk most of the names of employees he says are key witnesses in their legal battle over his proposed US$44bil (RM196.21bil) purchase of the social media company.

Musk, who has sought to cancel the deal, this month accused Twitter of hiding the names of workers who are specifically responsible for evaluating how much of the platform’s customer base is made up of spam and robot accounts, and asked the judge to force Twitter to identify them. So far Twitter has handed over the names of “records custodians”, who aren’t as familiar with the data at issue.

ALSO READ: Elon Musk says Twitter hiding witnesses he needs in buyout fight

On Monday, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick mostly denied Musk’s request, ordering that Twitter needn’t “collect, review, or produce documents” from any of the 22 additional custodians Musk requested, except for one.

That exception is a notable one: Kayvon Beykpour, former head of consumer product.

Beykpour was the top product executive at Twitter for years before he was unexpectedly dismissed by new chief executive officer Parag Agrawal. It was his product team that was most directly responsible for expanding Twitter’s user base – and it is the quality of that base Musk has questioned in seeking to walk away from the deal.

ALSO READ: Peloton, Calm and LinkedIn add to growing list of tech layoffs

Beykpour joined Twitter in 2015 when the company acquired his live video app, Periscope, and quickly climbed the ranks under former CEO Jack Dorsey. He was pushing Twitter into new product areas, like live audio spaces and newsletters, before he was ousted.

The departures of Beykpour and Bruce Falck, formerly in charge of revenue product, reflected Twitter’s state of limbo while it awaited a new owner, a state now intensified by the litigation. Meanwhile a hiring freeze and other cost-cutting efforts have left some employees unsure of whether the projects or teams they are working on will be prioritised under new leadership.

ALSO READ: Inside Twitter, shuffled jobs and Elon Musk tweets dampen morale

Lawyers for Twitter and Musk have issued a flurry of subpoenas to banks, investors and attorneys involved in the deal, as the two sides prepare for an Oct 17 trial in Wilmington.

Twitter claims that Musk, the world’s richest person and the CEO of Tesla Inc, is using the concerns about spam and bot accounts as an excuse to get out of the transaction. Musk argues the company has failed to show that spam bots account for fewer than 5% of its active users, as it has said in regulatory filings. – Bloomberg

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