A jury has found that Elon Musk did not deceive his investors when he tweeted in 2018 that he had enough money to take Tesla private.
Investors tried to sue the owner of SpaceX for billions of dollars after his tweets sent Tesla’s stock soaring, only to plummet 10 days later when it became clear the deal wasn’t going to happen.
Economists hired by shareholders calculated that investors lost as much as $12 billion.
The trial hinges on whether Mr. Musk’s 2018 tweets misled Tesla shareholders.
At the heart of the civil case are two tweets from Mr. Musk on Aug. 7, 2018, about a Tesla acquisition that never happened.
In his first tweet before boarding his private jet, Mr Musk declared he had “funded secured” to take Tesla private.
Hours later, Mr. Musk tweeted again that a deal was imminent.
The tweets caused Twitter’s stock to soar in the 10 days covered by the lawsuit, then retreated after Mr. Musk walked away from a deal he never had a firm commitment to raise, according to evidence presented during the three-week trial.
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Nicholas Porritt, an attorney for Tesla shareholders, urged jurors to condemn Mr. Musk as “loosely attached to the facts.”
Mr Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, acknowledged that the 2018 tweet was “technically inaccurate”.
But he told jurors: “Just because it’s a bad tweet doesn’t mean it’s fraudulent.”
After the decision, Mr. Musk tweeted: “I am very grateful to the jury for unanimously finding not guilty in the case of taking Tesla 420 private.”