Twitter is probing Elon Musk’s social circle in broad legal requests

Twitter is probing Elon Musk’s social circle in broad legal requests


SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter is probing associates of Elon Musk and seeking other information in far-reaching legal requests about his $44 billion deal to acquire the social media company, according to legal documents obtained by The Washington Post.

In a subpoena Twitter issued on Monday, its legal team asked for information about a who’s who of Silicon Valley elite, including investors Chamath Palihapitiya, David Sacks, Steve Jurvetson, Marc Andreessen, Jason Calacanis and Keith Rabois, among others. Some of the figures have not been previously named as having any involvement in the deal, suggesting the breadth of Twitter’s search for information to support its legal attempt to force Musk to go through with his deal to buy the company.

Twitter declined to comment. Palihapitiya, Sacks, Calacanis, Jurvetson and Rabois did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Musk and two of his attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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A flood of document requests issued over the weekend and into Monday marks the latest twist in the contentious and fast-evolving court case between the social media service and Musk, who is trying to pull out of his bid to take over the company.

After Musk said he was exiting the deal last month — accusing Twitter of not being forthright about the amount of spam and bots on its service — Twitter sued Musk in a Delaware business court, known as a Chancery Court. Musk in turn countersued Twitter on Friday. Twitter also issued subpoenas over the weekend to a group of banks involved in the deal, including Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley.

The subpoena obtained by The Post includes extensive requests for communications, including “checklists, timelines, presentations, decks, organizational calls, meetings, notes, recordings” related to the deal’s financing.

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Calacanis and Andreesen were previously known to be involved in financing aspects of the deal.

The Monday subpoena obtained by The Post also specifically asks for any communications about spam and bots, as well as for information about the All-In Summit 2022, a Miami event held in May by Palihapitiya, Calacanis, Sacks and David Friedberg. The men host a popular podcast together and the summit was a live event associated with the podcast. Musk spoke at the event via videoconference.

At the event, Musk telegraphed his apprehension about the deal, saying “the more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow.”

Musk had tweeted days earlier that the deal was “on hold” because of concerns about the proportion of spam or fake accounts on Twitter. He said at the conference that he could seek a lower price for the social media site and accused Twitter of potentially misleading him about the percentage of fake accounts on the platform, likening the issue to buying a house with a termite problem.

Calacanis and Sacks are known to be friends of Musk. Sacks worked with Musk when they ran PayPal, along with billionaire Peter Thiel, who is a friend of both. Rabois also was a PayPal executive, and is a friend of Thiel. Jurvetson is a longtime friend of Musk who is on the board of Musk’s SpaceX and served on the board of electric car company Tesla, which Musk helms as CEO.

A subpoena also went out to investor Joe Lonsdale, an associate of Musk and Thiel who also spoke at the All-In event, he said on Twitter on Monday. Lonsdale declined to comment beyond his tweet.

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In the tweet, Lonsdale described the subpoena as a “giant harassing fishing expedition,” and he said he had “nothing to do with this aside from a few snarky comments.”

Lonsdale, Rabois, Sacks and Thiel are also known to lean right politically, and they operate in a conservative political orbit that Musk has gotten increasingly involved in, as previously reported by The Post.

Calacanis launched a pool known as a special purpose vehicle to raise money for the deal this spring, using a tool that brings smaller investors into a larger bid. It aimed to attract investors at a minimum of $250,000. Investors were told to show their interest no later than May 11. Calacanis hosted Musk at the All-In Summit a few days later.

“There are a couple things that Twitter is probably looking for here. The first would be anything nice Musk said about Twitter to encourage people to participate in the equity financing,” said Adam Badawi, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who is not involved in the case, in a text. “The second would be anything he said that contradicts his public statements about bots.”

The investors targeted by the subpoenas could be compelled to testify by the court, he added.

“Most venture capitalists have portfolios of companies incorporated in Delaware so they probably don’t want to run afoul of its courts,” Badawi said. “If there are documents or conversations relevant to this dispute, these subpoenas will probably bring them to light.”

Gerrit De Vynck contributed to this report.

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