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Bob Iger Says Disney Was Set to Purchase Twitter in 2016, Musk Chimes In

The former Disney CEO commented on the number of fake accounts on the platform and explained why Disney ultimately cut the deal short.


Elon Musk's original bid to purchase Twitter and make it a privately-owned company made waves among Twitter employees and most of the public.

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media
Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media

Although Musk claims he is attempting to back out of his $44 billion bid because Twitter execs won't give him an accurate answer on how many bot and spam accounts are on the platform, it looks like Musk wasn't the first big name interested — or worried about bots, for that matter.

Former Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke this week at Code Conference in Los Angeles where he revealed that Disney had once been eyeing a purchase of Twitter in 2016, long before Musk swooped in.

Iger explained that, at the time, Disney was looking to go into the streaming business (the company now operates the streaming platform Disney+) and viewed Twitter as a "global distribution platform," not just a social media platform.

But Iger had a change of heart when the Disney-Twitter was "just about done" and "really ready to execute."

"I would come with so many other challenges and complexities that as a manager of a great global brand, I was not prepared to take on a major distraction and having to manage circumstances that weren't even close to anything that we had faced before," he said honestly.

Iger then alluded to Musk's major gripe with the company and admitted that bots and spam accounts were of concern — and were rampant on Twitter even at that time.

"We did look very carefully at all of the Twitter users — I guess they're called users? — and we at that point estimated with some of Twitter's help that a substantial portion — not a majority — were not real," Iger said. "I don't remember the number but we discounted the value heavily. But that was built into our economics. Actually, the deal that we had was pretty cheap."

Iger also cited Twitter's "potential to do as much harm as good" as a reason for not going through with the deal, something that would have damaged the Disney brand in his eyes and something he viewed as "irresponsible."

Musk, naturally, caught wind of Vox's reporting on Iger's talk and Tweeted a response.

Musk is currently in the midst of an ongoing legal battle with Twitter about whether or not he is legally allowed to back out of his bid to purchase.

The two are set to face off in trial next month.

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