Musk found not guilty of Tesla tweet fraud
In less than two hours, nine jurors unanimously clear Musk of wrongdoing in a Tesla shareholder class action suit, taken over a tweet in which he said he had “funding secured” to take the electric carmaker private in August 2018. The proposed $72bn (£60bn) buyout never materialised. Sharholders claimed Musk had lied when he tweeted later in the day that “investor support is confirmed”. According to an economist hired by the shareholders, investor losses were calculated as high as $12bn. During the three-week trial, Musk, who took the stand for nearly nine hours, argued he thought he had a verbal commitment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for the deal.
Musk tweets his thansk to the jurors:
Thank goodness, the wisdom of the people has prevailed!
I am deeply appreciative of the jury’s unanimous finding of innocence in the Tesla 420 take-private case.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2023
SEC probes Musk Tesla self-driving claims
US regulators are investigating Elon Musk’s role as part of an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission probe of the company’s statements about its Autopilot driver-assistance system. SEC officials are weighing whether Musk may have inappropriately made forward-looking statements, although which statements have not been revealed.
An investigation by the agency’s enforcement unit doesn’t always lead to consequences, but can result in lawsuits, fines or other civil penalties for companies and executives.
Crown Estate sues Twitter for London HQ back rent
Britain’s Crown Estate, an independent commercial business that manages the property portfolio belonging to the UK monarchy, issues court proceedings to Musk’s Twitter for rental arrears, in relation to an office space close to London’s Piccadilly Circus. In December, Musk stopped paying rent on all of Twitter’s office space around the world, including its headquarters, in a cost-cutting effort.
Musk: I had enough funds to take Tesla private
On his second day of testimony in a court case where he is accused of artificially boosting Tesla’s stock price with a tweet, Musk says that he had sufficient financial backing to take Tesla private. Musk says he believed it was “a done deal” that the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund would support a possible attempt to take Tesla private at $420 a share, a 20 per cent premium at the time, though he acknowledged there was no contract and that many details had not been worked out.
Musk said the PIF had “many multiples” of what was required to take Tesla private, especially because it was not expected to purchase the entire company, and added that his own shares in SpaceX, his rocket company, would make up for any shortfall.
It’s important for the jury to know that
Musk, said it was “difficult to say” if Tesla shares would rise or fall based on his tweet, because markets can act in “counter-intuitive” ways, but admitted it was more likely it would rise.
I expected that there (would) probably be some increase in the stock price — seems likely. If you say that you’re considering taking a company private or acquiring a company . . . there is going to be some premium . . . In this case, I’m clear about what the premium would be.
Mussk disagreed with the shareholders’ lawyers, who suggested the $420 price was based on a reference to cannabis that his girlfriend at the time found funny, saying he was applying a 20 per cent premium to the stock, then rounding up slightly.
There is some karma around 420, although I’d question (whether it) is good or bad karma, at this point
Neuralink faces federal inquiry after killing 1500 animals in testing
According to Reuters, Neuralink is under federal investigation for potential violations of The Animal Welfare Act. Interviews with former and current staff say pressure from Musk to accelerate development has resulted in failed experiments that have had to be repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and killed. It is estimated that the company has killed about 1500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs, monkeys, rats and mice following experiments since 2018.
Mistakes included one instance in 2021 when 25 out of 60 pigs in a study had devices that were the wrong size implanted in their heads, an error that could have been avoided with more preparation. The experiment was repeated with 36 sheep. All pigs and sheep were euthanised after the experiment. On another occasion, staff accidentally implanted Neuralink’s device on the wrong vertebra of two different pigs during two separate surgeries.
Musk and other Neuralink executives did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the USDA inspector general declined to comment. US regulations do not specify how many animals companies can use for research and the total number does not necessarily indicate that Neuralink is violating regulations or standard research practices.
Fired SpaceX employees file charges
Eight former SpaceX employees file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging they were let go for being part of a group that had drafted and circulated a letter to SpaceX executives in June. The letter asked SpaceX executives for three things: to curb “Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior,” to define and enforce the company’s sexual harassment policies, and ensure that all leadership is held accountable for violating such policies.
SpaceX’s current systems and culture do not live up to its stated values, as many employees continue to experience unequal enforcement of our oft-repeated ‘No Asshole’ and ‘Zero Tolerance’ policies.
US labor law prohibits employers from firing workers who band together to advocate for better working conditions. At the time, Musk called the letter a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company.
Musk defends $55 billion compensation plan in court
Musk defends his $55 billion pay award in a Delaware court, in a suit brought by Gregory Vallo, a Tesla shareholder. The plaintiff alleges that the compensation package, which called for Musk to reap billions if Tesla hit certain market capitalization and operational milestones, was approved by Tesla board members who had conflicts interest due to personal and professional ties to Musk.
Musk would receive the full benefit of the pay plan, $55.8 billion, only if Tesla hit a market capitalization of $650 billion and unprecedented revenue and earnings within a decade. To date, Tesla, under Musk’s management, has achieved all 12 of the market capitalization milestones and 11 operational milestones, providing Musk over $52.4 billion in stock option gains
Musk says he did not dicate the terms of the package, or attend any meetings at which the plan was discussed by the board, its compensation committee, or a working group that helped develop it.
I was entirely focused on the execution of the company,
Varallo also questioned Musk about how he splits his time among Tesla and his other companies. Musk said he never intended to be CEO of Tesla, and that he didn’t want to be chief executive of any other companies either, preferring to see himself as an engineer instead.
The suit also alleges the shareholder vote approving the compensation plan was based on a misleading proxy statement.
Twitter: Musk under federal investigation
In a court filing, Twitter says Musk is being investigated by federal authorities over his conduct in his $44 billion takeover deal for the company. The company does not say what the exact focus of the probes is, nor which federal authorities are conducting them. The court filing asks Musk’s attorneys to provide documents that are being withheld, which Musk’s attorney’s say contain ‘privileged’ information. Twitter:
This game of ‘hide the ball’ must end.
An attorney for Musk:
[Twitter’s court filing is a] misdirection. It is Twitter’s executives that are under federal investigation.
SpaceX loses Starlink Mexican domain battle
SpaceX loses a cybersquatting challenge against StarGroup, a 60-year-old Mexican telecommunications and entertainment services company in Mexico that registered the domain name starlinkmx.com. StarGroup’s brands include Star TV, Star Go, Star Line and Star Group.
The company applied for trademarks in Mexico for Starlink for communications starting in 2015. In November 2017, SpaceX legal representatives contacted StarGroup, initially not naming its client, to see if StarGroup would sell its Star Line and Starlink marks.
In finding for StarGroup, the WIPO panel noted that the company’s brand name starts with star, and it has a history of naming products that start with star. The panel also pointed out that StarGroup applied for trademarks in 2015, which predates SpaceX’s intentions to use the mark. The panel found that SpaceX did not show that StarGroup lacked rights or legitimate interests in the domain and did not show that StarGroup registered the domain in bad faith.
Musk claims Twitter made whistleblower destroy evidence
Musk’s lawyers accuse Twitter’s top two lawyers, Vijaya Gadde and Sean Edgett, and Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran, along with CEO Parag Agrawal, of seeking to cover up the violations of the legal settlements with government regulators by ordering the Twitter whistleblower, Peter Zatko, to destroy 10 handwritten notebooks and deleted 100 computer files.
Twitter’s attempt to buy Mr. Zatko’s silence failed, but Twitter achieved its secondary aim of ensuring Mr. Zatko’s corroborating evidence would never come to light. [The document-destruction order deprived Musk’s legal team of] critical corroborating evidence of Mr. Zatko’s allegations, which would support his account of key meetings and conversations relevant to this case.
Musk-Twitter trial stayed, deal must close Oct 28
Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen McCormick agrees to stay the Musk-Twitter trial, giving Musk until 5 pm on Oct. 28 to close the deal. Otherwise, she will set another trial date for next month. The proceedings had been set for Oct. 17. Twitter had argued that Musk should close the deal before the trial date.
This action is stayed until 5 p.m. on October 28, 2022, to permit the parties to close on the transaction. If the transaction does not close by 5 p.m. on October 28, 2022, the parties are instructed to contact me by email that evening to obtain November 2022 trial dates.
Twitter wants deal closed before trial date
Musk’s attorneys formally ask a judge to stay the trial, which is set to start Oct. 17. The Musk team say a close would be possible on or around Oct. 28. However, Twitter says Musk must close the deal before proceedings start on the 17th. Twitter;
At a minimum…Defendants should be arranging to close on Monday, October 10. But they aren’t. Instead, they refuse to commit to any closing date. They ask for an open ended out, at the expense of Twitter’s stockholders (who are owed $44 billion plus interest), all the while remaining free to change their minds again or to invent new grounds to avoid the contract. Until Defendants commit to close as required, Twitter is entitled to its day in Court….Defendants can and should close next week. Until they do, this action is not moot [as Musk’s motion insisted] and should be brought to trial.
Twitter will not take yes for an answer. Astonishingly, they have insisted on proceeding with this litigation, recklessly putting the deal at risk and gambling with their stockholders’ interests.
Dorsey wanted Musk on Twitter’s board, but directors were too ‘risk averse’
According to texts revealed in discovery, Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, tried to get Elon Musk on Twitter’s board, but could not do so because he claimed the company’s directors were too risk averse. In a text message to Musk on March 26, Dorsey wrote:
The board is just super risk averse and saw adding you as more risk.
Dorsey said he thought the board’s approach “was completely stupid and backwards.” But said his power was limited because he only had one vote, and 3% of company, and no dual class shares. A little over a week later, Musk announced plans to join the board, before he decided to make an offer to buy the company.
Musk files to end SEC ‘muzzle’
Musk asks for the term in his his 2018 consent decree with the SEC, that requires a company lawyer to pre-approve his Twitter communication, to be thrown out, arguing that it is “contrary to the American principles of free speech and open debate”.
The consent decree required Musk to step down as Tesla’s chairman; elect two new members to the company’s board; pay a $20 million penalty, plus a further $20 million form Tesla; establish a new committee of independent directors; and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications.
In April, after requesting the agreement be abolished, U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman refused to throw out the decree because Musk entered the terms of the decree “knowingly and willingly.” This time, Musk’s attorneys argue that the SEC’s review has become more invasive:
Under the shadow of the consent decree, the SEC has increasingly surveilled, policed, and attempted to curb Mr. Musk’s protected speech that does not touch upon the federal securities laws. Any objective served by the pre-approval provision has been served.
Twitter: Musk’s fake account claim ‘not supported’
During discovery for the upcoming trial, lawyers for Twitter say Musk’s review of Twitter’s accounts by his advisers do not back up his allegation that the number of fake users was “wildly higher” than 5% as he claimed when he said he was ending the Twitter takeover deal in July. Musk claimed Twitter had misled him, allowing him to walk away without penalty from the deal. The lawyer says that two documents created by the two data scientists employed by Musk estimated that the number of fake accounts on the platform at 5.3% and 11%.
None of these analyses so far as we can tell remotely supported what Mr. Musk told Twitter and told the world in the termination letter.
Twitter lawyers: Musk destroyed Andreessen evidence
Twitter’s lawyers have accused Musk of destruction of evidence, citing a screenshot of a conversation between Musk and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen on Signal, a messaging app that includes a feature that deletes messages after some time.
Musk deleted these messages because he anticipated litigation and he knew that they would undermine his counterclaims and defenses.
The same court filing also showed that Musk exchanged multiple text messages with Oracle Corporation co-founder Larry Ellison, starting May 12 through 12:20 a.m. on May 13, which was just hours before he announced that he was pausing his attempt to acquire the social media company.
Twitter’s legal team has complained that despite a subpeona, the Tesla CEO has not really provided the relevant text messages between Musk and Ellison.
Both Ellison and Andreessen have backed Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter. Andreessen’s VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz, backed Musk with $400 million, while Ellison was one of 19 investors who committed a whopping $7.14 billion for the potential acquisition.
HCC wins £5m insurance judgement against CMAL
A summary judgment is granted in favour of HCC International insurance aganst CMAL to claim £5 million owed as a result of the way ministers bought the shipyard when it was in administration. The Scottish government, which owns CMAL, said it was aware. Deputy High Court Judge Simon Gleeson:
It is easy to see why this decision seems to have caused so much anger and irritation amongst the Scottish ministers. In paying for the business of FMEL (Ferguson Marine) by reducing FMEL’s liabilities to them, they believed that they were simply transferring their own money from one pocket to another, with the transaction having no impact on their overall obligations. The discovery that the choice of transaction structure had resulted in their being required to pay a little over £5million to a third party must have been highly unwelcome.
Scottish government spokesman:
We are aware of a summary judgment that has been made in the English courts in relation to the claim.
Charges dropped over alleged Florida robbery
Prosecutors drop charges against McGregor after he allegedly smashed a fan’s phone outside a Miami hotel. Prosecutors in Miami say the victim has stopped cooperating with investigators and has recanted his story. The Miami Herald reports the fan, Ahmed Abdirzak, dropped his civil lawsuit with McGregor after reaching a settlement. Abdirzak had been seeking $15,000 in damages.
Florida assistant state attorney Khalil Madani said that Abdirzak…
has credibility issues as he’s changed his previously sworn testimony…Based on the witness’s credibility issues, his unwillingness to respond to a subpoena and the inability of the witnesses to testify… the State of Florida cannot prove the charges against Mr McGregor beyond a reasonable doubt.
Arrested after smashing fan’s phone
McGregor is arrested after he allegedly smashes a fan’s phone outside a nightclub in Miami Beach. The fan, who has not been named, was trying to take photos of McGregor as he was leaving the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, home to the LIV nightclub, just after 5am, when McGregor allegedly ‘slapped’ the phone out of the out of his hand and stomped on it several times, then picked it up and walked away with it. The fighter is facing charges of misdemeanor criminal mischief and strong-armed robbery.
Cleared over fresh motoring charge
McGregor is cleared of his latest motoring charge at a court in Dublin. He appeared on a charge for not producing his license and insurance when asked to earlier this year, for which he was issued with a summons. Garda Keith Dolan told the court that he was making an application to the judge to strike out all charges as the documents had been produced by McGregor when he arrived. Judge Geraldine Carthy granted the application and McGregor left the court room flanked by his three security guards, saying:
Thank you, Judge.