Elon Musk will never stop posting no matter who tells him to stop.
That was one of the takeaways from his brief testimony during his securities fraud trial, which took place at a San Francisco courthouse on Friday. Lawyers for the plaintiffs are peppering Musk with questions about his tweets while they work on his infamous 2018 “funding secured” tweet, which is the focus of this case. Musk is being sued by a class of Tesla investors who claim his clumsy attempts to take Tesla private this year have cost them millions of dollars.
However, Musk has not yet been asked about this tweet. He occupied the booth for just over 30 minutes before the trial was postponed until next Monday. But the plaintiff’s attorneys have asked many questions about his Twitter habits, particularly all of the people in his life who have asked him to leave the bird page.
Among those who asked him to stop tweeting were Antonio Gracias, a former Tesla CEO, investors Ron Baron and Sam Teller, Musk’s former de facto chief of staff, and other close associates.
Musk has received many questions about his Twitter habits, especially from all of the people in his life who have asked him to quit
“I suppose I kept tweeting, yes,” Musk replied when asked if he was ignoring his advisors and investors.
(Notably, Musk tweeted just seven minutes before taking the position and waited about 45 minutes after resigning before sending his next tweet.)
The plaintiffs are working to portray Musk as a ruthless tweeter who disregards good advice about the significant impact his public statements have on his company’s stock price and shareholders. At the beginning of his testimony, Musk was asked to describe the relationship between his tweets and Tesla’s retail investors.
“Retail investors are very important to me,” Musk said. “These are our most loyal and steadfast investors.”
It’s easy to imagine how that statement will haunt him later in the trial, as plaintiffs’ attorneys will likely remind him of the financial pain his tweets have caused those investors.
“Retail investors are very important to me,” Musk said.
Musk was also asked to explain one of his favorite topics: short selling. Tesla is one of the most shorted stocks on the market, and Musk has made no secret of his disdain for investors who bet against his company’s success.
“I believe short selling should be made illegal,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s a vehicle for bad guys on Wall Street to steal money from small investors. Not good.”
Most of the day’s testimony was dedicated to Guhan Subramanian, a Harvard Business School professor and witness for the plaintiffs, who described how unusual and unprecedented it was for Musk to attempt to tweet his way through Tesla’s managed buyout.
“What’s really different here is the submission of material, non-public information about a managed buyout via Twitter,” Subramanian testified. “It’s just never happened before.”
One possible sign of Musk’s much-reported exhaustion: Towards the end of his testimony, he said there are “two main companies that I run and where I’m essentially the chief technologist and product steward” — SpaceX and Tesla.
There was no mention of running a third company, Twitter.