During Friday’s trial testimony over the 2018 tweets related to the electric vehicle maker’s potential going private, 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 Musk’s 2018 tweets about taking the company private were misleading and caused them to lose money.
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Testifying Friday, Musk denied that there was a “causal relationship” between his tweets and the electric vehicle maker’s stock price.
“I think you’re linking things on Twitter like stock prices when they’re not linked,” Musk said. “That’s why I set the example, even if I say on Twitter that I think the stock price is too high, the stock price keeps going up.”
He also said that Tesla’s stock price “goes up and down all the time” and that he doesn’t think “a tweet about something completely non-Tesla is going to have an effect on the stock price.”
Regarding the brevity of the tweets, Musk argued in his testimony that it was “misleading” to “combine misleading with short.”
He seemed to agree at one point that there were cases where Twitter’s character limit might be a limitation on providing details.
“I mean, there are things like, for example, the Tesla safety blogs, whatever, that were long and, you know, they’re on our website,” he said.
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“But, I mean, I’ve tweeted about Tesla’s safety in tweets,” he told the lawyer. “The tweets are truthful. They’re just brief. I think you’re trying to mix deception with brief. That’s deceptive.”
Musk previously faced an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in connection with the August 2018 buyout tweets, one of which read: “Considering taking Tesla private at $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 purchase took place.
It settled the SEC’s securities fraud charges “without admitting or denying” the allegations in September 2018, according to an SEC press release. The settlements included that Tesla had to “establish additional controls and procedures to monitor Musk’s communications” and that he and the company were required to pay a $40 million class action fine, among other things, the agency said at the time.
Tesla’s stock price was trading around $133 on Friday, up 23% from early 2023 but down 57% from last year.
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