Elon Musk defends his 2018 Tesla tweets in court

Elon Musk defends his 2018 Tesla tweets in court

Billionaire Elon Musk. Aly Song/REUTERS

The entrepreneur had caused a stir by saying that he wanted to withdraw his group from the stock market at a price of 420 dollars per share.

Elon Musk tried to show in court on Monday that his famous 2018 tweets, about his desire to take Tesla out of the stock market, were not misleading or fraudulent, contrary to accusations by investors who say they lost millions of dollars because of the billionaire. The boss of Tesla – and of Twitter, since the end of October – had created a stupor on August 7, 2018 by saying that he wanted to withdraw his group from the Stock Exchange at a price of 420 dollars per share, then by assuring that the financing was “secure”.

“I wasn’t saying it was done, I was just saying I was considering it, thinking about it. And that in my opinion the funding was secure”, Elon Musk said at the bar in the San Francisco court where the trial is taking place. Last week, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Nicholas Porritt, accused the executive of having “lied” and to be responsible for the losses of the investors. The stock jumped on the heels of the highly unusual tweets (and the Nasdaq temporarily suspended Tesla stock price), before declining in the following days. News reports had revealed that the boss didn’t really have the funds. Tesla remained listed on the stock exchange.

Nicholas Porritt returned to the price offered by Elon Musk, 420 dollars per share. In the United States, the numbers 4 and 20 together are associated with the consumption of cannabis. When the billionaire offered to buy Twitter last spring, he chose a price of $54.20 per share. “Did you round up to 420 as a prank on your girlfriend?”asked the lawyer. “It was not a joke, it represented a premium of 20% above the share price”replied Elon Musk, acknowledging however that there is “some karma around 420”.

No agreement from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund

‘Not sure if it’s good or bad karma at this point’, he joked again. The prosecution sought to show that the whimsical boss did not have the necessary elements, nor the authority to make such a sensational announcement publicly, especially on Twitter, and especially while the markets were open. Elon Musk notably did not have a written agreement from his potential main partner, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

“I was the major shareholder of SpaceX, which is the most valuable private company in the United States, so I also had my SpaceX shares to complete the transaction”, insisted the billionaire. The trial is expected to last three weeks. In a previous decision related to this case, a judge ruled that the infamous 2018 tweet could be considered “false and misleading”.