Elon Musk on the witness stand, defending Tesla buyout tweets

Elon Musk on the witness stand, defending Tesla buyout tweets

Elon Musk on the witness stand, defending Tesla buyout tweets

During testimony Friday at trial over the 2018 tweets related to the electric vehicle maker’s potential delisting, Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended his Twitter posts.

His testimony on Friday came after the trial began in San Francisco earlier in the week. In the civil lawsuit, some Tesla shareholders claimed that tweets made by Musk in 2018 about the possibility of taking the company private were misleading and caused them to lose money.

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When testifying on Friday, Musk objected to the existence of a “causal relationship” between his tweets and the electric vehicle maker’s share price.

Elon Musk attends the Met Gala 2022 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022 in New York City.  (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

Elon Musk attends the Met Gala 2022 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue) (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue/Getty Images)

“I think you’re tying things on Twitter to stock prices when they’re not tying,” Musk said. “That’s why I set an example, even if I say on Twitter that I think the stock price is too high, the stock price still goes up.”

He also said that Tesla’s stock price “goes up and down all the time” and that he doesn’t think “some tweet about something completely unrelated to Tesla will have an effect on the stock price”.

Elon Musk gives a speech in Shanghai

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk speaks at an opening ceremony for Tesla’s Made in China Model Y program in Shanghai, China, 7 January 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo (Photos from Reuters)

Regarding the brevity of the tweets, Musk argued in his testimony that it was “misleading” to “confuse misleading with short”.

He seemed to agree on one point that there were cases where Twitter’s character limit could limit providing details.

ticker Safety Last Change Change %
TSLA TESLA INC. 133.42 +6.25 +4.91%

“I mean, there are things like, say, Tesla safety blogs, whatnot, that were long and, you know, they’re on our website,” he said.

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“But, I mean, I tweeted about Tesla security in tweets,” he told his lawyer. “The tweets are real. They’re just short. I think you’re trying to confuse misleading with short. That’s misleading.”

Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Reuters/Michele Tantussi/File Photo/Reuters Photos)

Musk previously faced a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation in connection with the August 2018 buyout tweets, one of which read: “I’m considering taking Tesla private for $420. Financing secured.” The other said that “investor support is confirmed” and that “the only reason this is not certain is that it depends on the shareholder vote”. Ultimately, no purchases took place.

He settled the SEC’s securities fraud allegations “without admitting or denying” the allegations in September 2018, according to an SEC press release. The settlements included Tesla having to “put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications” and he and the company being required to pay a collective fine of $40 million, among other things, the agency said at the time.

Tesla’s stock price was trading at around $133 on Friday, up about 23% from the start of 2023 but down about 57% from last year.

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