Per CNBC, Musk reportedly made the comments while speaking at a summit hosted by Chamath Palihapitiya, Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and David Friedberg for their podcast called “All-In.”
On Friday, Twitter shares were pressured downward when Musk said that he was going to put his acquisition of the social network “on hold” while he tries to get a better sense of the total number of fake and spam accounts on the platform.
Musk had estimated that fake users make up at least 20 percent of all users, according to the Bloomberg report, while Twitter had previously said such accounts make up less than 5 percent of its monetizable daily active users over the past quarter.
“To find out, my team will do a random sample of 100 followers of @twitter. I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover,” Musk tweeted.
He later clarified his methodology by adding: “Pick any account with a lot of followers” and “ignore first 1000 followers, then pick every 10th. I’m open to better ideas.”
Musk, without evidence, also mentioned that he picked 100 as the sample size number due to the fact that that’s the number Twitter uses to calculate the numbers in their earnings reports.
“Any sensible random sampling process is fine. If many people independently get similar results for % of fake/spam/duplicate accounts, that will be telling,” he tweeted. “I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate <5% fake/spam/duplicate.”
Meanwhile, as reported by Insider, there is now a less than 50 percent chance that Musk’s $44 billion Twitter deal gets done, according to a note from Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush.
Ives said that he sees Musk's concern about bots and fake accounts as a “dog ate the homework” excuse—which he could eventually tap into to either back out of the deal or land a lower takeover price.
“Our view is while Musk is committed to the deal the massive pressure on Tesla's stock since the deal, a changing stock market/risk environment the last month, and a number of other financing factors has caused Musk to get 'cold feet' on the Twitter deal with the bot issue not a new issue and likely more of a scapegoat to push for a lower price,” the note said.
Furthermore, “in a changing market and with Tesla losing ~$300 billion of market cap since the deal we view the $44 billion Twitter deal as having less than a 50% [chance] to get done as of today,” it concluded.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.