Parag Agrawal
Photoillustration: Twitter; Getty Images; Protocol

'Holding Musk's feet to the fire'

Source Code

Good morning! Twitter is officially suing Elon Musk for trying to get out of his acquisition. Is he stuck with it?

Twitter squawks back

In a move we all saw coming, Twitter sued Elon Musk Tuesday for trying to back out of his $44 billion acquisition of the company.

  • Twitter's lawyers make heavy use of Musk's tweets in the lawsuit. And they don't hold their punches.
  • “For Musk, it would seem, Twitter, the interests of its stockholders, the transaction Musk agreed to, and the court process to enforce it all constitute an elaborate joke,” they wrote.

The odds of Musk getting out of this deal with a $1 billion slap on the wrist are ... not great. He did, after all, sign a binding agreement to buy the company, in which Twitter has strong protections against him walking away.

  • The only real way Musk can wiggle out is for him to prove Twitter didn’t have a reason to resist his requests for spam and bot data, which will be a difficult task. The agreement requires Twitter to hand over information that helps close the deal, not data to justify blowing it up.
  • “Musk apparently believes that he — unlike every other party subject to Delaware contract law — is free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away," Twitter’s lawsuit said.

But forcing him to buy a company he no longer wants? That seems, as Protocol Fintech editor Owen Thomas put it, “extra.” Dan Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush, said in the firm’s guidance that there “are a range of possibilities” that can come from the case, including Musk paying Twitter damages or buying the company at a discount.

But Twitter, alleging in the lawsuit that his indecisive attitude towards the deal has done “irreparable harm” to the company, “is holding Musk's feet to the fire to finish the deal at the agreed-upon price,” Ives said.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Data protection pitfalls post-Roe

Following the Biden Administration’s executive order Friday calling to protect abortion health access, which included privacy protection recommendations for sensitive data, the FTC committed to cracking down on illegal sharing of such data. But that may not be enough.

The executive order asks the FTC to protect consumer privacy when seeking abortion care. The agency later “committed to using the full scope of its legal authorities” to do so.

  • The FTC’s notice warns that sensitive data is protected by numerous federal and state laws, and that hefty fines may follow companies that break them.
  • But the releases don’t lay out any new enforcements against sensitive data sharing, instead reiterating current laws and asking federal agencies to consider additional steps to protect data privacy.

These laws aren’t always going after the right kind of data, Protocol chief correspondent Issie Lapowsky told me. Even the most cautious organizations working on providing access to abortions have data privacy policies that leave things like IP addresses and URLs vulnerable.

  • Plan C, a website that helps connect people with abortion pills, has trackers that dispatch information to Facebook and Google that can be used to target ads. Planned Parenthood’s website has similar trackers.
  • These sites didn’t necessarily implement this kind of tracking for nefarious purposes. Johnny Lin, founder of the tracker blocking app Lockdown Privacy, told Issie that they’re using “off-the-shelf tools that are fairly common,” but now might need to be rethought post-Roe.

Federal legislation containing the right to make a platform delete your data or opt out of collecting it may help, Issie told me, and a bill is currently being considered to allow just that. But until it's passed, the burden of data protection falls on the consumer.

—Nat Rubio-Licht

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The future of work’s ‘poster child’

Everyone has an idea for what the future of work will look like. But Fiverr CEO Micha Kaufman thinks the company has had the answer for years.

I chatted with Kaufman this week about talent as a service, the future of the freelancer market and Fiverr’s plans for helping businesses enlist freelancers. Here are some highlights from the conversation, which you can read in full here.

  • You need to think about remote work differently: "More businesses are up to understanding that there should be less focus on people's time and more focus on people's output.”
  • The freelancer market hasn’t reached its peak: “This is why I've been doing this for about 13 years, and I'm more excited today than I was 13 years ago.”
  • Companies are soon going to need to use freelancers whether they like it or not: “People … are thinking differently about HR and about talent, and how to integrate that talent into the workflows of companies.”

—Sarah Roach

People are talking

The 16-year-old behind the Lapsus$ hack just wanted to be famous online:

  • “All I ever wanted was some CVEs so I could get a job at Microsoft, maybe start some Twitter drama every once in a while.”

Elon Musk said Donald Trump should “hang up his hat and sail into the sunset” after Trump mocked him:

  • “Dems should also call off the attack – don’t make it so that Trump’s only way to survive is to regain the Presidency.”

Making moves

Spotify bought Heardle, a music trivia game, for an undisclosed amount.

GoPuff is cutting 10% of its staff and closing dozens of warehouses. Around 1,500 people will be affected.

Ev Williams is stepping down as CEO of Medium. He will be replaced by Tony Stubblebine, CEO of online coaching company Coach.me.

Matt Hicks is replacing Paul Cormier as Red Hat's CEO. Hicks currently leads Red Hat's products and tech.

Claire Fang is SeekOut’s first chief product officer. Fang last held the same role at Qualtrics.

Rebecca Hahn is Twitter’s new VP of global comms. Hahn previously led comms at Bird.

Jared Cohen joined Goldman Sachs to help start a new innovation group. Cohen founded Jigsaw and worked closely under Eric Schmidt.

Hopin’s COO, CFO and chief business officer are out. It’s unclear if they left voluntarily.

In other news

Apple's consulting deal with Jony Ive is over, sources told The New York Times. Ive wants to work with clients outside the company, which was hard to do under his agreement with Apple.

Google's the latest to slow hiring. Sundar Pichai said the company needs to work with "greater urgency" and "more hunger" than before.

Twitter took center stage at the Jan. 6 hearing yesterday. A Twitter employee said he tried to warn the company of potential violence that day, and a former homeland security chief said Trump’s tweet ahead of the insurrection brought violent groups together.

The leaders of Three Arrows Capital are nowhere to be found, but liquidators won the right to subpoena them anyways, along with the banks and digital asset exchanges tied to the fallen crypto hedge fund.

Amazon is working to develop cancer vaccines. Collaborating with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the company recently launched an FDA-approved clinical trial.

Police got user footage from Amazon's Ring cameras almost a dozen times this year, the company told Sen. Ed Markey. Markey had asked Amazon a series of other questions about how police officers use Ring.

Rivian’s R.J. Scaringe will talk about layoffs and project cuts during a meeting with workers on Friday.

HBO and HBO Max swept the Emmy nominations. HBO got 140, Netflix got 105, Apple TV+ got 58 and Disney+ got 34.

Do you really need Prime?

Happy Prime Day to all those who celebrate. How much do you rely on two-day shipping, grocery delivery or Amazon Prime video? If you’re still iffy on whether or not you need Amazon Prime, the Washington Post put together a quiz for you to figure it out. The Post also has tips on how to pay less for your subscription.

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