Tech News

Musk mutes Twitter; Swiggy acquires Dineout

It’s no secret that Elon Musk hates spam bots. But does he despise them enough to call off his $44-billion takeover of Twitter? We may soon find out. Earlier today, the Tesla CEO said he was putting the deal on hold while he awaited proof of Twitter’s claim that spam and fake accounts comprise less than 5% of its monetisable daily active users. That metric has been out for some time though, so why is Musk bringing it up now?

Musk mutes Twitter

Credit: Giphy

Also in this letter:
■ Swiggy buys restaurant booking platform Dineout
■ After reassigning team, Tesla puts India plans on hold
■ SoftBank stock recovers after company posts record losses

Musk shelves Twitter deal over fake accounts, stock plummets 18%

Elon Musk

Elon Musk put his $44-billion deal for Twitter on hold on Friday over the proportion of spam and fake accounts the platform claims to have.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk told his more than 92 million Twitter followers.

The tweet included a link to a Reuters story from May 2 which said Twitter had estimated that fake or spam accounts represented fewer than 5% of its monetisable daily active users during the first quarter.

What’s cooking? Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, pointed out that the 5% metric has been out for some time now and that Musk would already have seen it. “So it may well be part of the strategy to lower the price,” she said.

Musk Timeline

“It’s going to be highly frustrating for many in the company given that several senior executives have already been laid off,” she added.

Twitter falls, Tesla rises: Twitter shares fell 17.7% to $37.10 in premarket trading. That’s their lowest level since Musk disclosed his stake in the company in early April. He subsequently made a “best and final” offer to take it private for $54.20 per share.

Meanwhile, Tesla shares, against which Musk has secured $6.25 billion in funding for the acquisition, were up about 5%.

Musk’s plans for Twitter: Since striking the deal to buy Twitter, Musk has said repeatedly that one of his priorities would be to remove “spam bots” from the platform.

  • He has also been critical of Twitter’s moderation policy, saying he wants Twitter’s algorithm, which prioritises tweets, to be made public.
  • Earlier this week, he said he would reverse Twitter’s ban on former US President Donald Trump when he buys the social media platform and that he was against permanent bans for individual Twitter users.
  • He has also said he is against giving too much power on Twitter to corporations that advertise on it.

Also Read | Twitter’s Kayvon Beykpour speaks out after being ‘asked’ to leave by CEO Parag Agrawal

Swiggy acquires restaurant booking platform Dineout

Swiggy Dineout

Online food-delivery app Swiggy today said it has entered into a definitive agreement with Times Internet* to acquire restaurant tech and dining out platform Dineout.

Dineout was acquired by Times Internet in 2014.

Details: After the acquisition, Dineout will continue to operate as an independent app, Swiggy said in a statement. The acquisition is likely an all-stock deal and is expected to close over the next month, sources told us.

Swiggy will double down on Dineout’s offerings, including restaurant table reservations and events. Dineout’s restaurant partners will get access to Swiggy’s large customer base, allowing them to increase their reach. Arch rival Zomato started as a table reservation platform and continues to operate that business.

Quote: “Dineout is a well-loved brand that enjoys loyalty from both consumers and restaurants. Times Internet and the founding team should be credited for the transformational impact they have brought about in the dining out experience through their products, technology, and a vast selection of restaurant partners,” said Sriharsha Majety, cofounder and CEO, Swiggy.

The development comes a month after Swiggy and Zomato backed restaurant management platform UrbanPiper in a $24 million funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Tiger Global. It was the first time the two food delivery majors invested together in a startup.

Last month, Swiggy also led an investment of $180 million in bike and auto-taxi aggregator Rapido, its maiden bet in the mobility sector and its single largest investment in a startup.

Disclaimer: Times Internet runs ETtech.

ETtech Deals Digest

Electric scooter maker Ather Energy, digital payments firm Razorpay, and ecommerce enablement company GoKwik were among the startups that raised funds this week. Here’s a look at the top funding deals of the week.

Deals Digest

After reassigning team, Tesla puts India plans on hold


Tesla has put on hold plans to sell electric cars in India, abandoned a search for showroom space, and reassigned some of its domestic team after failing to secure lower import taxes, three sources told Reuters.

Called it: On May 5 we reported that Tesla’s India team was being reassigned to Asia-Pacific and other markets, the first indication its plans here were on hold.

Tug of war: The decision caps more than a year of deadlocked talks with government representatives as Tesla sought to first test demand by selling electric vehicles (EVs) imported from production hubs in the US and China, at lower tariffs.

But the Indian government is pushing Tesla to commit to manufacturing locally before it will lower tariffs, which can run as high as 100% on imported vehicles.

Feb 1 deadline: Tesla had set itself a deadline of February 1, the day India unveils its budget and announces tax changes, to see if its lobbying brought a result, the sources told Reuters. When the government did not offer a concession, Tesla put its plan to import cars into India on hold.

Ola Electric threatens to sue the customer: Meanwhile, Ola Electric has threatened legal action against Guwahati resident Balwant Singh, who tweeted about his son Reetam Singh’s accident on March 26, blaming it on a malfunction of his Ola S1 Pro scooter.

Ola has asked Singh to take down “all negative and defamatory statements, posts, tweets, re-tweets, reposts, articles and reports” made against Ola Electric.

The communication, sent by law firm Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan on behalf of Ola Electric, was in response to a “takedown notice” sent by Singh on April 23, asking Ola Electric to delete a tweet in which it shared details of the scooter’s telemetry data just before and during the accident. Singh said the company violated his son’s privacy by posting the data.

Tweet of the day

SoftBank stock recovers after company posts record losses


SoftBank shares shrugged off the record $26-billion loss that the company’s Vision Fund posted on Thursday. The stock rallied 10% in the Friday morning trading session in Tokyo. Other tech stocks like flea market operator Mercari and e-comm payments app Rakuten also rose.

The recovery comes a day after Softbank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son announced that the company would likely cut its 2022 investments to half or even a quarter of what it invested in 2021.

Defense is the new attack: During the earnings call on Thursday, the Japanese tech giant said it would follow a strategy of “defence” for now, as tech stocks continue to plummet worldwide. “When it rains, you open an umbrella,” said Son, pointing to the company’s $23 billion cash position and 20.4% loan-to-value ratio.

Bitcoin rises again after horror week for crypto

Bitcoin rises

Despite the woes of stablecoin TerraUSD, which has sparked fear in the crypto market, Bitcoin rose above $30,000 on Friday.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency was trading around $30,421 at 5:40 pm IST, according to CoinDesk data, up 8.79% in the last 24 hours, after it plummeted on Thursday to levels not seen since December 2020.

Terra-Tether terror: The crash of a controversial stablecoin known as terraUSD or UST, which is intended to be tied one-to-one with the US dollar, has prompted the latest crypto bloodbath, which has seen billions of dollars wiped off the market. As a result, Luna, a token affiliated with UST, is now worth $0.

Luna has been removed from Indian crypto exchanges after shedding 100% of its value in just under seven days.

Tether, the world’s biggest stablecoin, which its developers say is backed by actual dollar reserves, has also come under pressure. It fell to 95 cents on Thursday, according to CoinMarketCap data, but was back at $1 on Friday.

Today’s ETtech Top 5 newsletter was curated by Zaheer Merchant in Mumbai, Ruchir Vyas in Ludhiana, and Arun Padmanabhan in New Delhi. Graphics and illustrations by Rahul Awasthi.


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