- Elon Musk told a court that 50 Tesla engineers working at Twitter weren’t “Tesla assets.”
- He said that’s because the Tesla staff had volunteered to work at the company after-hours.
The 50 Tesla engineers who worked for Elon Musk at Twitter weren’t “Tesla assets” because they volunteered to work at the company after-hours, the billionaire told a Delaware courtroom on Wednesday, per CNBC.
When questioned if it was a good idea to use Tesla resources at Twitter, Musk said he “didn’t think of this as using Tesla assets.”
“There’s 120,000 people at the company. This is de minimis,” he added, using a Latin term meaning something so minor it should be disregarded. He also said the engineers worked at Twitter “for a few days, and then it was over.”
Musk — who is the CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, and is acting as CEO at Twitter — was in court over a Tesla shareholder lawsuit. The lawsuit, brought by shareholder Richard Tornetta, alleges that the $55 billion pay package — which helped make him the world’s richest person — was “excessive” and violated the Tesla board’s financial duties.
The lawsuit argues that the Tesla board which gave the award was full of Musk’s friends and yes-men. Gregory Varallo, the lawyer representing Tornetta, asked Musk: “Did any of these so-called independent directors call you and say it might not be a good idea?”
Musk replied: “I don’t believe I received a call.”
James Murdoch — the businessman and son of News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch, who has sat on Tesla’s board since 2017 — testified that the board was aware that Musk had asked Tesla engineers to work at Twitter. Murdoch said the board’s audit committee was monitoring the situation, but he believed their work was now finished.
The court case also saw Musk say he’ll look for a new Twitter CEO once he has reorganized the company.
He also gave Twitter staff a choice on midnight Wednesday, telling them to commit to a new “extremely hardcore” Twitter, or get three months severance. His email told staff they needed to work “long hours at a high intensity,” and gave them about 40 hours to make their decision.
Twitter and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.