A jury on Friday decided Elon Musk didn’t deceive investors with his 2018 tweets about electric automaker Tesla in a proposed deal that quickly unraveled and raised questions about whether the billionaire had misled investors.
The verdict by the nine jurors was reached after less that two hours of deliberation following a three-week trial. It represents a major vindication for Musk, who spent about eight hours on the witness stand defending his motives for the August 2018 tweets at the center of the trial.
Musk, 51, wasn’t on hand for the brief reading of the verdict, after making a surprise appearance earlier Friday for closing arguments that drew starkly different portraits of him.
Alex Spiro, Musk’s attorney, declined to comment as he walked out of the courtroom following the verdicts.
The trial pitted Tesla investors represented in a class-action lawsuit against Musk, who is CEO of both the electric automaker and the Twitter service he bought for $44 billion a few months ago.
Shortly before boarding his private jet on Aug. 7, 2018, Musk tweeted that he had the financing to take Tesla private, even though it turned out he hadn’t gotten an iron-clad commitment for a deal that would have cost $20 billion to $70 billion to pull off.
Musk’s integrity was at stake at the trial as well part of a fortune that has established him as one of the world’s richest people. He could have been saddled with a bill for billions of dollars in damages had the jury found him liable for the 2018 tweets that had already been deemed falsehoods by the judge presiding over the trial.
Earlier Friday, Musk sat stoically in court during the trial’s closing arguments while he was both vilified as a rich narcissist whose reckless behavior risks “anarchy” and hailed as a visionary looking out for the “little guy.
Jury: Musk didn't deceive investors with 2018 Tesla tweets