- Elon Musk addressed several questions about his takeover of Twitter during his testimony on Wednesday.
- The billionaire is being sued by a shareholder over his $50 billion Tesla compensation package.
- Musk appeared annoyed by the questions and asked, “Are we in the Tesla process or the Twitter process?”
Even during a Tesla compensation trial, Elon Musk couldn’t escape questions on Twitter.
Musk was peppered with questions about his takeover of Twitter, as well as his persona on the platform, during his testimony Wednesday in a Delaware court regarding his $50 billion Tesla payment package.
“Are we in the Tesla trial or the Twitter trial? I’m confused,” Musk told attorney Greg Varallo of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman, after Varallo asked him a series of questions about his role as “Chief Twit.”
“We are under cross examination on an interesting case, Mr. Musk,” Varallo said. “So when your lawyer wants to make an objection, he has the right to do so. Sadly, you don’t, but I suspect he will if he doesn’t like the question.”
Musk is facing a lawsuit from Tesla shareholder Richard Tornetta over his $50 billion Tesla compensation package. In the lawsuit, Tornetta alleges that Musk and the automaker breached their fiduciary duties by awarding Musk a compensation package that was “beyond the bounds of reasonable judgment.” Tesla argued that the package was justified because no one else could drive up the electric car maker’s value the way Musk did.
Until recently, Musk was also facing a lawsuit from Twitter over his attempts to avoid his pledge to buy the social platform for $44 billion.
During Musk’s Wednesday testimony, which lasted more than two hours, Varallo questioned Musk about his role on Twitter, including his recent comment that he plans to sleep in Twitter headquarters until the company ” it will be fixed”. The billionaire said he eventually plans to bring in someone else to run Twitter and said he would finish retooling the company by the end of the week.
“There is an initial burst of activity needed after the acquisition to reorganize the company, but then I will reduce my time [committement] on Twitter to find someone else to run Twitter over time,” Musk said.
The billionaire also said that while he had brought in dozens of Tesla engineers to review Twitter’s code, it was after hours and on a voluntary basis. Experts previously told Insider that Musk’s use of Tesla engineers on Twitter could be another cause of shareholder litigation.
“[It was] for example, if you could help me evaluate the engineering of Twitter, it would be appreciated,” Musk said.
Throughout the trial, Tornetta’s lawyers argued that Tesla’s salary package allowed the billionaire to focus on other companies, including Twitter.
The Tesla CEO has faced his fair share of lawsuits and is known for giving combative testimony.
At several points, Musk said the attorney’s questions were designed to “mislead people.”
“Do you have a background as a lawyer?” Varallo asked at one point, after Musk said he accepted a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission “under duress,” which he deemed “invalid as a foundation of the law.”
“I’m quite familiar with the legal system,” Musk joked. “If you have enough lawsuits, pick up some stuff along the way.”
Musk is one of 19 witnesses who will take the stand during the week, including executives who worked at Tesla in 2018, consultants who helped create the compensation package, and compensation experts. Tesla argued that Musk’s 2018 compensation plan, which provides a 10-year grant of 12 tranches of stock options that are acquired when Tesla meets certain goals, was necessary for the automaker’s success. Tesla shares are up more than 1,000% to date since the billionaire’s compensation plan was set up in 2018.