(Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. has been ordered to hand over files from its former head of consumer products to Elon Musk about spam and bot accounts that the billionaire cited in an attempt to walk away from his $44 billion purchase of the social media company.
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But Twitter was spared from producing documents for most of the employees who Musk says are key witnesses in the bot issue.
Musk, whom Twitter is suing to get him to complete the deal, accused the company this month of withholding the names of employees specifically responsible for assessing how much of the platform’s customer base consists of spam and bot accounts. He asked the judge to compel Twitter to identify them. So far, Twitter has withheld the names of “record keepers” who are not as familiar with the data in question.
Read more: Musk says Twitter is hiding witnesses it needs in buyout battle
On Monday, Delaware Court of Chancery Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick mostly rejected Musk’s request in a one-page ruling, ordering that Twitter should not “collect, review or provide documents” from any of the other 21 additional trustees that Musk requested.
The exception is Kayvon Beikpour, the former head of consumer products, who was fired in May.
Beykpour was Twitter’s top product executive for years before he was unexpectedly fired by new CEO Parag Agrawal. It was his product team that was most directly responsible for growing Twitter’s user base — and it’s the quality of that base that Musk called into question in trying to back out of the deal.
Beykpour joined Twitter in 2015 when the company acquired its live video app, Periscope, and quickly climbed the ranks under former CEO Jack Dorsey. He was pushing Twitter into new product areas, such as live audio spaces and newsletters, before he was ousted.
The departures of Bakepour and Bruce Falk, who were previously in charge of the revenue product, reflected Twitter’s state of limbo as it waited for a new owner, a state now exacerbated by the litigation. Meanwhile, a hiring freeze and other cost-cutting efforts have left some employees unsure whether the projects or teams they work on will be prioritized under the new leadership.
Read more: Twitter to freeze hiring, rescinds offers ahead of Musk deal
Lawyers for Twitter and Musk have issued a flurry of subpoenas to banks, investors and lawyers involved in the deal as the two sides prepare for an Oct. 17 trial in Wilmington.
Twitter alleged that Musk, the world’s richest man and chief executive of Tesla Inc., used concerns about spam and bot accounts as an excuse to abandon the transaction. Musk argued that the company failed to prove that spambots represented less than 5% of its active users, as it said in regulatory filings.
The case is Twitter v. Musk, 22-0613, Delaware (Wilmington) court.
(Adds context to Twitter changes in paragraph eight.)
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