Elon Musk doubled down on the earnest intent of his infamous 2018 tweet indicating he may take Tesla private and had the financial backing to do so, as his testimony enters its third day during the trial for a class-action lawsuit against the U.S.’ wealthiest person.
“I thought I was doing the right thing,” Musk, who took the stand in San Francisco federal court at about 11:30 EST, testified Monday during cross-examination from his attorney Alex Spiro.
He intended to make sure “all shareholders were aware of taking private and not just a few big shareholders,” Musk added, digging into his continued claim he intended to help retail investors, not to harm or mislead them, in disclosing the closed-door discussions about the buyout (public companies are supposed to disclose any non-material public information through the Securities and Exchange Commission).
Though Musk stands by his sincere intentions, he has already landed in significant hot water for the take-private post: The SEC fined him and Tesla $10 million apiece and ordered Musk’s removal as chairman of Tesla’s board because Musk “knew that the potential transaction was uncertain” and his “misleading tweets caused…significant market disruption,” noting shares of the electric vehicle maker jumped 6% on the day of the tweet.
The testimony comes as part of the high-profile civil lawsuit, seeking billions of dollars in damages, brought forward by a class of Tesla shareholders who say they lost money from the stock’s brief rise and subsequent fall after Musk’s August 7, 2018 tweet indicating he had “secured” funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Musk took the stand for about 30 minutes Friday and five hours Monday, with his defense largely centered on his belief that the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund had indeed committed enough capital to execute a buyout and his tweet was intended to inform all Tesla investors of the multibillion-dollar Saudi investment in the company before the Financial Times reported on the stake. Musk predictably had several colorful moments in court, testifying that the $420 share price was purely coincidental given the number’s connection to marijuana but indeed represented good “karma.”
Court proceedings began Tuesday with discussion about Musk’s logistics and parking spaces, as Musk parked in a court employee’s designated space Monday, according to judge Edward Chen, who remarked in jest it’s a dispute to be settled between the two.
Our latest estimates peg Musk’s net worth to be $159 billion, the second-largest fortune in the world. Musk’s wealth has grown $13 billion year-to-date amid Tesla shares’ 33% rally, but is down 50% from its November 2021 peak.
This is a developing story and will be updated…