Elon Musk safeguards tweets in securities scams trial in San Francisco

Alex Spiro, lawyer to Elon Musk, center, leaves court in San Francisco, California, United States, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

Benjamin Fanjoy | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared in a San Francisco federal court on Friday to protect tweets he published to his 10s of countless fans in August 2018.

The tweets stated he had “funding secured” to take his electrical car business personal for $420 per share, which “investor support” for such an offer was “confirmed.”

Tesla’s stock trading at first stopped after the tweets, then shares were extremely unstable for weeks. Musk later on stated that he had actually remained in conversations with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and felt sure that financing would come through at his suggested rate. An offer never ever emerged.

The SEC charged Musk and Tesla with civil securities scams after the tweets. Musk and Tesla each paid $20 million fines to the firm, and struck a modified settlement arrangement that needed Musk to briefly relinquish his function as chairman of the board at Tesla.

His 2018 tweets likewise activated an investor class action claim from Tesla financiers. They declared that Musk’s tweets misguided them and stated depending on his declarations to make trades cost them considerable quantities of cash.

The investors’ sell concern happened throughout a 10-day duration prior to Musk appeared to confess a take-private offer was not going to take place in 2018.

Musk stated under oath on Friday that it’s tough to link Tesla’s stock rate to his tweets.

“There have been many cases where I thought that if I were to tweet something, the stock price would go down,” Musk stated. “For example, at one point I tweeted that I thought that, in my opinion, the stock price was too high…and it went went higher, which was, which is, you know, counterintuitive.”

A huge boost in trading volume after he tweeted

It’s unusual for magnates at openly traded business to discuss their stock rate since any commentary can affect rate motions.

Daniel Taylor, director of the Wharton Forensics Analytics Lab and teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, evaluated every sell Tesla stock taking place on Aug. 7, 2018, the day that Musk tweeted. He computed the overall trading volume every minute from the time the marketplace opened through the time of Musk’s tweets about a buyout. 

Taylor discovered that the trading volume the minute Musk tweeted, at 12:48 p.m. ET that day, was over $350 million, and the trading volume for Tesla shares the next minute was over $250 million. By contrast, the typical volume 5 minutes prior to Musk tweeted was $32 million per minute. The minute prior to Musk tweeted, trading volume was $24 million.  

“It is generally true that correlation is not causation,” Taylor informed CNBC on Friday, after Musk’s very first day on the witness stand. “However, I am unaware of any alternative explanation for a 10-fold increase in trading volume the same minute that Elon Musk tweeted.”

Musk likewise affirmed about his low viewpoint of brief sellers on Friday.

“I believe short selling should be made illegal,” Musk stated, describing brief sellers as “bad people on Wall Street” who “steal” from other financiers. He stated they likewise plant stories in the media to “get the stock to go down” and will “do anything in their power to make a company die.”

Tesla was amongst the most greatly shorted stocks in August 2018, when Musk made the declarations about taking Tesla personal. Tesla’s share rate rose about 10% throughout trading that day. Short sellers deal with massive losses when shares in an offered business climb greater.

Some of the complainants in the trial that’s in progress claim that Musk’s “funding secured” tweets were meant to put upward rate pressure on Tesla’s stock driving a so-called “short squeeze.”

Musk’s testament is not yet total and the court prepares to speak with him once again on Monday.

VIEW: Musk affirms over tweets


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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