Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O), and his business were found not at fault by a U.S. jury on Friday for deceiving investors when Musk tweeted in 2018 that he had “funding secured” to take the electric car firm private.
Plaintiffs had sought billions in damages, and Musk himself, who frequently expresses his opinions on Twitter, had deemed the ruling crucial.
Two hours into the jury’s deliberations, they returned with a unanimous decision.
Musk did not attend court when the jury’s judgement was announced, but he quickly tweeted that he was “truly appreciative” of their choice.
In recent months, Tesla, SpaceX, and now Twitter have all competed for Musk’s attention.
Investors at Tesla have expressed concern that he has been focusing too much on managing the social media company.
Musk tweeted on August 7, 2018, that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share, a premium of nearly 23% over the previous day’s closing, and that he had “financing secured.” Tesla shareholders felt Musk had misled them.
When Musk tweeted later that day that “investor support is confirmed,” they claim he was lying.
Following the tweets, the stock price rose before dropping once more on August 17, 2018, as it became obvious that the buyout would not go through.
Musk testified for over nine hours during the three-week trial, telling the jury that he thought the tweets were accurate.
He claimed to have secured the required funding, including an oral promise from the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
According to Musk, the fund eventually changed its mind about their pledge.
Musk claimed in his testimony that he sent the tweets in an effort to equalise small shareholders with major investors who were aware of the agreement.
However, he acknowledged that the Saudi fund and other potential investors had not given him any official guarantees.