Twitter has subpoenaed several associates of Elon Musk, according to court documents and public statements, as the company moves forward in its legal fight against the Tesla billionaire over his attempt to end its $44 billion takeover deal.
The list of those who received subpoenas includes several prominent investment firms and venture capitalists, some of whom are part of the so-called PayPal mafia, a group of influential tech industry figures who worked at the payments firm Musk co-founded.
According to a lawsuit, Twitter has sent a subpoena to the Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm established by Peter Thiel, the controversial billionaire who was also a co-founder of PayPal. Twitter also allegedly sent subpoenas to investors Joe Lonsdale and David Sacks, according to tweets from both individuals.
Lonsdale, a co-founder of Palantir and a former PayPal employee, said in a tweet this week that his subpoena is part of a “giant harassing fishing expedition.” Sacks, a former PayPal executive and founder of Yammer, responded to the subpoena by tweeting a magazine cover with an image of a middle finger on it. Twitter declined to comment on this story.
Musk decided to terminate the takeover deal last month, claiming that Twitter violated the deal by failing to hand over data he says he needs to assess the number of bots and spam accounts on the platform. Days later, Twitter sued Musk to force him to abide by the deal.
A five-day trial is scheduled to begin in Delaware on October 17, after Twitter pushed for an expedited process.
By sending subpoenas to investors and Musk associates, Twitter may be trying to determine when Tesla’s CEO decided to back out of the deal and his reason for doing so.
“They’re trying to verify his story,” Charles Elson, founding director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, told CNN Business. “Was he really tricked? It was not? Was that a strategy, or was it a genuine concern about what they told him or didn’t tell him?”
Some analysts have suggested that Musk is using the bot’s explanation as an excuse to get out of a deal that now looks overpriced after the slump in Twitter stocks and the tech market in general.
Tesla shares, which Musk relies in part to fund the deal, also tumbled after he agreed to the takeover. (A lawyer for Musk had previously called this suggestion “absurd.”
Prior to closing the deal, Musk had secured financing for the acquisition, including debt commitment letters from Morgan Stanley and other unnamed financial institutions, as well as billions in equity funding from several technology investment firms.
According to a lawsuit, Twitter sent a subpoena to AH Capital Investments, an Andreessen Horowitz fund, which was among the companies listed as agreeing to provide equity financing for the deal.
Founders Fund and AH Capital Investments were not available for immediate comment.
Twitter also sent subpoenas to two of Musk’s companies, Tesla and SpaceX, according to court documents.
Clare Duffy contributed to this report.
Source: CNN Brasil