Tesla CEO Elon Musk testified before a jury on Tuesday, asserting that he had “no bad motive” when he tweeted in 2018 that he had secured financial support to delist his automaker ‘s stock. electric, while shareholders say it’s a lie.
Musk defended himself against accusations of defrauding investors when he posted a tweet on August 7, 2018, in which he said that “funding is secured” to turn Tesla into a private company at $420 per share, and that “investor support is certain.”
The trial is a test of whether the second richest person in the world can be held responsible for his sometimes reckless use of Twitter.
Musk testified on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, in response to questions from his attorney, Alex Spyro, that his tweet was intended to inform investors, not deceive them, about his interest in making Tesla a private company and not leaking news to a select few.
Musk said that the Tesla board of directors had already discussed the matter with the Saudi Public Investment Fund – the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, and that he was afraid that this would leak to the media.
“I didn’t have a bad motive, my intention here was to do the right thing for the shareholders,” he added. He explained that he chose not to take Tesla private due to a lack of shareholder support.
“After speaking to a number of investors, particularly smaller ones, they said they would prefer Tesla to remain public and I felt it was important to accommodate their wishes,” he said in his testimony to the jury.
Tesla’s stock rose after Musk’s tweet in 2018 related to its price, reaching $420, which represented an increase of about 23% over the previous day’s close, then declined as it became clear that the acquisition would not take place.
Investors say they lost millions of dollars as a result of his tweets. A 9-member jury will decide if Musk artificially raised Tesla’s share price by touting the possibility of a takeover.
The jury was shown notes and documents from a board meeting in the days following the tweet in which Goldman Sachs, which had been working with Musk on the proposed deal, indicated there was more than enough funding to take the company private.
“Funding was never an issue, quite the opposite,” Musk said in his testimony.
During questioning by the investors’ attorney, Nicholas Porritt, Musk said he had not discussed specific amounts of financing with any of the potential investors such as the Saudi Fund, Larry Ellison or Silverlake.