Legal & Courts  May 19, 2023

Twitter stiffed Boulder company on office cleaning bills, lawsuit claims

BOULDER — Social media giant Twitter Inc., now known as X Corp., owes a local business nearly $100,000 in unpaid bills for cleaning services provided at the company’s Boulder offices, according to a lawsuit filed this week.

Boulder-based Avalanche Commercial Cleaning Inc. claims in a complaint filed in Boulder County District Court that it had been cleaning Twitter’s offices at 1301 Walnut St. since 2015 without issues.

In October 2022, Twitter stopped paying its bills, the complaint alleges. Billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter that same month for $44 billion.

Avalanche’s attorneys, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, claim that Musk’s company owes the cleaner $93,504.13 for services provided between October and December 2022.

BizWest reached out to Twitter for comment Friday. Musk fired the company’s press- and media-relations team months ago, and Twitter employees no longer respond to inquiries from news outlets. BizWest did, however, receive an automated email response from Twitter’s press office: a poop emoji. 

Twitter gained a Boulder presence in early 2014 with its acquisition of Gnip and doubled its headcount to around 200 in 2016 with The Wencel Building on Walnut Street lease, which provided space for an app development team.

The company then, in 2020, leased another 65,000 square feet in the S’Park neighborhood in central Boulder, which was still under construction at the time. 

Twitter does not have operations at the Walnut Street office, which was put on the sublease market earlier in 2022, prior to Musk’s purchase of the company. Twitter also may also be behind on rent payments. 

In December 2022, a “demand for compliance or right to possession notice” was posted on the door of the Wencel Building on Walnut Street by attorneys representing landlord W.W. Reynolds Cos. That letter, the posting of which is a required part of Boulder County’s eviction process, showed that Twitter owed just under $179,000 in back rent. Monthly rent at the Walnut Street offices was nearly $120,000. 

Bloomberg reported this month that “Twitter is late on more than $10 million of payments to an array of companies that provide services from public relations advice to branded merchandise, according to claims in court filings.”

Many of those vendors, like Avalanche, are small, local businesses. Some aren’t. Twitter was recently sued, Bloomberg reported, over unpaid rent by The Crown Estate, which manages real estate holdings for the British royal family. 

Several allegedly stiffed vendors, some of which have damage totals smaller than Avalanche’s, have joined together in a class action lawsuit against Twitter, according to Bloomberg.

A leader at one of the class action plaintiff firms told Bloomberg that rather than communicating with vendors, Twitter’s accounts-payable department was using chatbots to respond to demands for payment.

Since buying Twitter in October 2022, Musk has often portrayed himself as a knight in shining armor who stepped in to save a financially distressed company. Twitter added $12 billion in debt to its books as part of Musk’s takeover. Service on that debt is estimated to cost more than $1 billion per year. 

Last fall, research firm Insider Intelligence prophesied that Twitter would bring in $4.74 billion in advertising revenue in 2023. In April, that revenue projection got a $2 billion haircut and now stands at less than $3 billion for the year. 

The lawsuit is Avalanche Commercial Cleaning Inc. versus Twitter Inc., case 2023CV30359 filed May 18 in Boulder County District Court. 

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