On Friday, a San Francisco trial began in which Tesla CEO and Twitter CEO, Elon Musk, is accused of fraud by investors. The alleged fraud stems from a 2018 tweet stating that he planned to take Tesla off the stock exchange. Musk defended himself for half an hour, citing his method of communicating on Twitter and his successes at the head of the automotive group.
Musk’s attorney, Alexander Spiro, affirmed Wednesday that the business mogul had full intentions of taking Tesla off the stock market, with backing from Saudi sovereign wealth funds. A statement to the contrary came from Nicholas Porritt, the attorney for the class action plaintiffs, claiming Musk “lied, and his lies caused people to lose millions of dollars.”
Musk called downward speculations from investors “evil” and should be “illegal,” as he defended himself for the jury. Porritt questioned Musk about an earlier tweet sent in July 2018, where he dubbed a British caver who had criticized him a “pedo guy.” Porritt then asked if Musk had taken a break from Twitter, to which he answered “no.” Musk then declared that tweeting is the “most democratic way to communicate,” as it gives everyone access to the same information.
The trial is expected to last three weeks, and a previous ruling suggested Musk’s 2018 tweet was “false and misleading.” One of the plaintiffs, Timothy Fries, said he had invested in Tesla after the tweet and had lost $5,000. During testimony, Musk detailed the stress he had experienced in 2018 that led him to sleep at the Tesla factory out of obligation.
Guhan Subramanian, a specialist in company takeovers by its leaders, noted that Musk’s proposal was “incomplete, incoherent and illusory.” He then noted how the stock had dropped after the original tweet to $335.45.
The trial surrounding Elon Musk’s alleged fraud concluded its first day of testimony on Friday. After defending his method of communication on Twitter and his successes with Tesla, the case against him continues next Monday.