Elon Musk has told a court his tweets did not inflate Telsa’s share price as he stands trial over comments made in 2018.
The billionaire – once the world’s richest person– testified in San Francisco court on Friday, January 20.
He justified his move by saying that “just because I tweet something does not mean people believe it or will act accordingly.”
The testimony started by asking questions regarding his Twitter usage, the microblogging platform he acquired in October.
He described Twitter as “the most democratic way” to communicate but said his tweets don’t always have an impact on Tesla stock as he expected.
He testified for just 30 minutes before the court adjourned until Monday.
He wasn’t questioned about his 2018 tweet which said he was planning to take the company private and had “funding secured.”
As the trial progress, Musk was expected to explain why he insisted on having a Saudi investor backing the funding, which apparently didn’t happen, and if the misleading statement he said in the tweet was deliberate or not.
This is a rare securities class action trial and the plaintiffs have already cleared significant legal obstacles.
Last year, US District Judge Edward Chen ruled that Musk’s funding tweet was false and reckless.
Shareholders claimed Musk’s tweet was a lie that led investors to lose millions of dollars.
Reuters reported Musk appeared “meek” in court on Friday, speaking softly and even bemusedly, which is a contrast to his occasionally confrontational testimony in previous cases.
He recounted the challenges the firm faced around the time he posted “funding secured,” including short-seller bets that the price would plummet.
Mr. Musk said: “A bunch of sharks on Wall Street wanted Tesla to die, very badly,” describing short-sellers, who profit when a stock falls in price.
He said short-sellers spread fake news and that the practice should be made unlawful.
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In his opening statement on Wednesday, Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, told the jury Musk thought he had funds from Saudi investors and was taking efforts to make the deal happen.
Mr. Spiro stated that Musk tried to shield “everyday shareholder” from potential media leaks by sending the tweet with “technical inaccuracies”
The nine-member jury will determine whether the tweet artificially inflated the electric vehicle company’s stock value by exaggerating the funding status and if so the extent.
Spiro said the investors who include current and former Tesla investors had “pure” intentions for Musk’s plan.