Musk says Tesla go-private plan counted on SpaceX, Saudi money

Joel Rosenblatt, Malathi Nayak, Bloomberg News on

Published in Business News

Musk disclosed when he first arrived in court that he had a bad night’s sleep, and some of his meandering and clipped comments on the witness stand showed him growing weary as Porritt sharpened his questions to try to punch holes in the take-private plan.

There were also moments of levity Monday, like when Musk revealed that he himself uses the term “infamous” to describe the tweets at issue. When Porritt accidentally referred to Musk as “Mr. Tweet,” the billionaire chuckled.

At another point, Porritt asked Musk whether the reference in the tweet to $420-a-share was really a joke that he thought would amuse his girlfriend at the time. The number is a slang term for marijuana consumption.

“There is some karma around 420” and there’s a “question whether that is good or bad karma at this point,” Musk said, prompting laughter in the courtroom.

But he said the amount was chosen because it reflected about a 20% premium on Tesla’s stock price.

“I don’t know if she thought it funny or not but the 420 price was not a joke,” he testified, referring to his then-girlfriend.

Read More: Musk Didn’t Own Enough Tesla in 2018 to Take Private Alone

When Porritt finished his questioning, Musk faced much friendlier queries from his own lawyer, Alex Spiro.


Musk was asked by his attorney why he counted on the Saudis to “put their money” where their mouths were on his proposal to take Tesla private.

“One should expect consistency,” Musk said. In an earlier conversation, he explained, he told the PIF that if it was serious about investing in Tesla, it should buy 5% of the company in the public market. Without more discussion, and without any formal contract or paper work, it happened. “It’s reasonable to expect they’ll behave the same way in the future as they have in the past,” Musk said.

Spiro also noted that a previous witness testified that completing a transaction as costly and complicated as taking Tesla private would be “unprecedented” on the short timeline that Musk contemplated.

“I’ve done things that are unprecedented where I’ve been told many times it isn’t possible,” Musk said. When Tesla first launched, his critics said he couldn’t build an electric car and even if he could no one would buy it, he recalled. “I was called a fool many times.”

After about four hours with Musk on the witness stand, the judge adjourned the trial for the day. Musk is set to return Tuesday to finish his testimony.

Musk is no stranger to courtroom battles - and has been nicknamed “Teflon Elon” for his ability to escape unscathed. He took the stand and prevailed in trials in 2019 in Los Angeles and in 2021 in Delaware. He also testified in November in a Delaware investor case over his $55 billion Tesla pay package — but that one hasn’t been decided yet.

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