(San Francisco) Twitter took the lead in a court battle against the world’s richest man on Tuesday after a US judge ruled the trial would be short and expeditious, in accordance with the law.
Updated yesterday at 2:35pm.
The platform filed lawsuits against Elon Musk last week to force him to honor his commitment made in late April to acquire it for $44 billion.
After hearing both parties, Judge Kathaleen McCormick, president of a Delaware court specializing in business law, said the trial would take place in October and last five days.
Twitter had already requested an accelerated procedure in September so as not to prolong the period of uncertainty that is partially paralyzing the company.
The judge who fell ill with COVID-19 and therefore held the hearing zoomacknowledged that “delays could do irreparable damage to Twitter”.
Elon Musk’s lawyers appealed Friday to prevent hostilities from opening before next year. They assert that the experts need to analyze “mountains of data” to prove, as the multi-billionaire claims, that the platform is riddled with automated accounts and spam, far in excess of the 5% officially quoted.
For this reason, the head of Tesla and SpaceX had indicated that he would unilaterally end the agreement to take over the social network, which he sees as a “public space” for “democracy”.
The preliminary hearing was “Twitter-friendly,” Adam Badawi, a law professor at the University of Berkeley, told AFP.
It reinforced the vision of the market, which already believed Twitter had the “edge” over Elon Musk, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives tweeted.
Especially since Kathaleen McCormick also mentioned that it is not certain whether Elon Musk’s compensation payment will be enough to make up for the damage suffered.
Shares of Twitter closed almost 3% higher at $39.69 as the markets closed.
Despite going through an image crisis after months of being attacked and slandered by her ex-beau, the platform is the favorite in this showdown. His lawyers believe Elon Musk has changed his mind given the recent drop in stock market valuations of tech companies.
In the ad they accuse him of “hypocrisy” and “bad faith”. On Tuesday, they insisted on the issue of automated accounts, which they saw as an excuse for the multi-billionaire to sneak away.
“This issue, which Musk says requires complex review, is a manufactured problem designed to complicate things and cause delays,” said William Savitt, Twitter’s attorney. “The merger agreement doesn’t even mention automated accounts and spam,” he insisted.
“We suspect that Mr. Musk wants to delay this process long enough to never be held accountable. […] He knows that in such circumstances, justice belated is often justice missed. He even hopes so,” he said.
” Ridiculous ”
If Twitter wins, the businessman, who is followed by more than 100 million people on the network, could be forced to buy the company at the price agreed at the end of April ($54.20 of the lawsuit) or pay substantial damages.
Kathaleen McCormick, the first female president of the Delaware Court of Chancery, is best known for forcing Kohlberg, a company that had also attempted to break off an engagement, to buy the company in question, DecoPac.
The fate of Bluebird, a social network used by politicians, celebrities, activists and influencers worldwide, seems to have little in common with that of less prominent organizations.
But “I don’t think it’s different enough that Delaware is risking its reputation by choosing not to apply the terms of the agreement,” says Adam Badawi.
Elon Musk’s attorney, Andrew Rossman, argued that “terabytes” of data needed to be looked at and that it was “ridiculous” to imagine it being possible in such a short amount of time.
But “if the judge had found it necessary to analyze mountains of information, she would have chosen a later date,” emphasizes the professor. “So this gives the impression that the question of automated accounts will not be as detailed as Musk would like. »
The prospect of Elon Musk buying the social network, willingly or by force, has been causing concern among many of Blue Bird’s employees and users, as well as human rights groups, in line since April, as the quirky boss wants to see protective measures against harassment and misinformation loosen.