Musk said he “definitely” did not have any sway over the company’s board when it approved the SolarCity deal. The Tesla chief executive officer also denied vowing to retaliate against any director who voted against the acquisition and said he had no control over their compensation or board committee assignments.
Shareholders suing Musk claim he got the company to essentially rescue another firm that he also controlled. The suit contends that Musk and Tesla’s board breached their fiduciary duties when they orchestrated the acquisition of SolarCity, an installer of rooftop solar panels. In June 2016, Musk was the chair and the largest shareholder of both companies when he stunned Wall Street by announcing that Tesla would acquire SolarCity in a deal he later called a “no brainer.”
Musk, dressed conservatively in a black suit with a black tie, initially answered questions from his own lawyer on Monday. He then spent several hours sparring at times with the attorney representing investors. It’s his first day on the stand in Wilmington, Delaware, in what is expected to be a two-week trial. Musk’s testimony may last into a second day.
The plaintiffs are trying to persuade Delaware Chancery Court Judge
Musk, during questioning by his attorney, said Tesla’s now-Chairwoman
The Tesla board kept Musk updated on the basic progress of the deal, but he otherwise recused himself, Musk testified. He scoffed at the idea that he controlled Tesla’s shareholders.
“I don’t think it’s possible to control” big institutional investors like
Wall Street Rejection
Musk, the world’s second-richest man, said that early in his life he had
At one point, the self-described “Technoking” said he doesn’t want to be CEO of Tesla but felt he had no choice. “I tried hard not to be the CEO at Tesla, but I had to or it would die,” he testified. “I
When questioned by
Shortly after noon, Baron asked Musk if he “rage fired” anyone. Musk is widely known for being a demanding and exacting boss, and executive firings are legendary within the company.
Musk denied “rage firing” anyone, but said he gives “clear and frank feedback which may be construed as derision.” Baron then played several clips of Musk’s deposition highlighting acrimonious exchanges between the two.
‘Bad Human Being’
“That was openly derisive not for some benefit of Tesla, but because you didn’t like what was happening, correct?” Baron asked.
Musk said he doesn’t respect Baron because he first worked at a law firm,
“You were mentored by criminals,” Musk said. “Then you continued to be mentored by criminals and that is why I do not respect you. I think you are a bad human being.”
For more on Musk’s testimony, click
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