Billionaire Elon Musk likely to double down on tweets after court victory

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Elon Musk may be further emboldened in his use of Twitter after a jury acquitted the billionaire CEO of Tesla Inc for his missive that he had “funds secured” to take his electric car company private.

It took a San Francisco jury just two hours to unanimously declare that the world’s second-richest person is not responsible for allegedly fraudulently tweeting in August 2018 about a possible Tesla purchase.

Musk is likely to “double down” on his communication tactics after the verdict, said Minor Myers, a professor of corporate law at the University of Connecticut.

“This will just encourage him to act as he sees fit,” Myers said.

Musk eventually dropped his effort to take Tesla private, but told the jury at the start of the three-week trial that he had believed what he wrote in the tweets.

Karen Woody, an associate professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, said she thought the case against Musk was “rock solid” and was surprised by the verdict.

“He pushed the limits and he won,” he said. “I hope Elon writes what he wants.”

Musk himself thanked the jury on Twitter, which he bought in October for $44 billion.

“Thank God, the wisdom of the people has prevailed,” he wrote.

The Tesla shareholders who sued Musk had sought billions of dollars in damages.

Musk’s gritty tweeting style has made him a hero to many and polished the Tesla brand.

He fought hard against accusations that he had not told the truth, with his attorney, Alex Spiro, telling jurors that the “funding secured” tweet was only technically inaccurate.

“Who cares about the poor choice of words?” Spiro said during closing arguments.

The tweets led to Musk and Tesla paying $40 million to settle civil charges from the US Securities and Exchange Commission under a consent agreement that Musk has unsuccessfully fought to lift.

β€œHe doesn’t want to play with SEC rules as the SEC understands them, and the SEC doesn’t want to be perceived as backing down,” said Adam Pritchard, a University of Michigan law professor. “I hope they continue to have their difficulties.”

Still, many analysts said Musk, who has tweeted more than 22,000 times and has around 128 million Twitter followers, had no reason to slow down now.

“Many people, faced with a lawsuit like this, would have stopped tweeting,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners. “But that wasn’t the case in the Twitter deal, was it?

“Musk lives by his own rules, or so it seems,” Forrest said.

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