Musk on trial says his tweets don’t always affect Tesla stock

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“Just because I tweet something doesn’t mean people believe it or will act accordingly,” the Tesla boss told jurors.

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Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc, told jurors on Friday that investors are not always responding to his Twitter messages as he expects in a trial over his 2018 interest in shutting down the electric car maker, which shareholders allege cost them millions of trading losses.

Musk’s testimony began with questions about his use of Twitter, the social network he bought in October. He called it the most democratic way to communicate, but said his tweets don’t always impact Tesla stock in the way he expected.

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“Just because I tweet something doesn’t mean people believe it or will act accordingly,” Musk told a jury in San Francisco federal court.

Musk testified for less than 30 minutes before the court adjourned until Monday.

He is expected to explain why he pushed for the support of Saudi investors to privatize Tesla, which never happened, and whether he deliberately made a misleading statement in his statement. tweet.

The case is a rare securities class action lawsuit, and the plaintiffs have already overcome high legal hurdles, with US Judge Edward Chen ruling last year that Musk’s message was false and reckless.

Shareholders claimed that Musk lied when he sent a tweet saying, “I’m considering privatizing Tesla for $420. Funding secured,” which costs investors.

Musk, dressed in a dark suit over a white button-down shirt, spoke in a low and sometimes embarrassed tone that contrasted with his occasional belligerent testimony in past trials.

Musk described the difficulties the company faced around the time he tweeted “funding secured.”

He was asked about messages sent to him by Tesla investor Ron Baron urging him to stop using Twitter, but Musk said he doesn’t remember all the thousands of messages he received.

He talked about the problems the company faced at the time, including that shorts were betting that the stock would fall.

“A bunch of sharks on Wall Street really wanted Tesla to die,” he said.

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Earlier Friday, Tesla investor Timothy Fries told jurors he lost $5,000 buying Tesla shares after Musk tweeted to the center of the lawsuit.

Fries said that “financing secured” meant to him that “there was some scrutiny, some critical scrutiny, of these funding sources.”

Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, told jurors in his opening statement on Wednesday that Musk believes he has received funding from Saudi backers and is taking steps to close the deal. Fearing media leaks, Musk tried to protect the “ordinary shareholder” by sending a tweet that contained “technical inaccuracies,” Spiro said.

Guhan Subramanian, a professor at Harvard Law School, told jurors that Musk’s behavior in 2018 was “unprecedented” and “incoherent” in structuring a corporate deal, as he publicly stated his intention to buy Tesla without proper financial or legal analysis.

A nine-member jury will decide whether the tweet was artificially inflated by Tesla’s stock price, highlighting the deal’s funding status, and if so, by how much.

The defendants include current and former Tesla directors, who Spiro said had “pure” motives in their response to Musk’s plan.

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