Elon Musk has sent a third letter to Twitter to try to end his $44 billion acquisition of the company. Musk’s legal team cited Twitter’s multimillion-dollar severance payment to former security chief and whistleblower Peiter Zatko as a breach of the merger agreement and a reason to terminate the deal. The letter, dated September 9, was sent to Twitter’s chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde, and was included in a filing Twitter made to the SEC on Friday (which you can read at the bottom of this article).
Last month, Zatko made headlines by accusing Twitter of misleading investors about the number of bots on the service, failing to delete users̵[ads1]7; data and having poor security practices, among other things. Musk jumped on the allegations, citing them in his second resignation letter and subpoenaing Zatko to testify in the lawsuit. Zatko was to be deposed on Friday.
Elon Musk sent his first resignation letter in July, saying that Twitter misled him about the number of bots on the platform and that the company would not give him access to the information he needs to make his own decisions. This despite him gaining access to the “firehose” API that contains every tweet.
On Thursday was The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter had agreed to pay Zatko roughly $7 million before he left the company, in lost compensation after he and the company negotiated his salary for months. Musk’s lawyers cite that as another reason why his deal to buy the social media company should not go through. The purchase agreement excludes Twitter from providing extraordinary severance pay or termination pay. according to Journal, the settlement isn’t particularly surprising, given that Zatko was an executive who left the company, but it seems Musk doesn’t agree. (The letter also mentions that Musk did not learn of the separation agreement until Twitter filed it in court.)
Whether Musk is actually allowed to end the deal is a matter before a Delaware court after Twitter sued Musk in July for trying to abandon the deal. Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick has already ruled that Musk will be allowed to use Zatko’s allegations to support his case, and that there will be “limited” discovery of documents related to the whistleblower’s report. In August, Musk filed the second notice of termination, citing the original reports.
The trial is due to start on October 17. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.