Elon Musk had a relatively quiet day on Wednesday with Twitter, after earlier issuing its remaining workforce with a ‘hardcore’ ultimatum to either agree to work long hours, or they would be terminated.

Elon Musk in court admitted on Wednesday that he doesn’t want to be CEO of any company, and his leadership of Twitter was temporary.

Musk was in court after he and Tesla were sued by a Tesla shareholder, who alleged the $56 billion CEO compensation package agreed in 2018 was excessive and that its authorisation by the Tesla board amounted to a breach of its fiduciary duty.

Image credit: Tesla

New CEO

During his testimony in the Delaware courtroom, Musk said he expected to reduce his time at Twitter and eventually find a new leader to run the social media company, adding that he hoped to complete an organisational restructuring this week, Reuters reported.

However Musk later added in a tweet that he will continue to run Twitter until it is in a strong place, though it will “take some time.”

It comes after Musk admitted that he had too much work on his plate, as the defacto head of five companies, namely Twitter, Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and the Boring Company.

With the position of Twitter CEO up for grabs, it was perhaps inevitable that former CEO and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey would be asked if he would return to the Twitter hotseat he vacated in November 2021.

A very clear answer was given when he asked by a Twitter user if he would accept the position as Twitter CEO, Dorsey replied “nope”.

SEC insults

During his testimony Musk also seemed to backtrack on his previous insults aimed at the US financial regulator, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

According to CNBC, attorneys for the plaintiffs asked whether it was a good idea for Musk to strike a combative attitude towards regulators and specifically asked him about his prior insults aimed at the SEC.

“In general, I think the mission of the SEC is good but the question is whether that mission is being executed well,” Musk reportedly replied.

“In some cases I think it is not,” he reportedly said. “The SEC fails to investigate things that they should and places far too much attention on things that are not relevant. The recent FTX thing I think is an example of that. Why was there no attention given to FTX? Investors lost billions. Yet the SEC continues to hound me despite shareholders being greatly rewarded. This makes no sense.”

It should be noted the SEC and several other regulators have reportedly begun investigations into FTX, but it is not clear when those investigations actually began.

But it is fair to say that Elon Musk has a fractious relationship with the SEC. In October 2018 for example Musk tweeted that the US agency was the “shortseller enrichment commission.”

Then in December 2018 Musk publicly admitted that he had “no respect” for the SEC. Worse was to come in July 2020 when Musk tweeted this.

The message was widely read as having a vulgar meaning and comprising a major insult to the agency.

Now on Wednesday in the Delaware court, CNBC quoted attorneys asking Musk about that tweet, but Musk claimed it had been widely misunderstood.

The Tesla CEO reportedly said in court that he meant the initials to stand for “Save Elon’s Company” but the tweet was “interpreted differently.”

The bad blood between Musk and the SEC stems from August 2018, when Musk surprised the markets, when he tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private and that he had secured funding to do so.

The SEC sought to ban Elon Musk from acting as an officer or director of a publicly traded company as a result.

But in the end, the US financial regulator forced Musk to step down as chairman of Tesla and pay $20m in penalties.

In addition, Tesla itself also had to pay a $20 million penalty.

Musk however was allowed to retain the CEO role and have his subsequent tweets about Telsa vetted by a company lawyer – a process that he has allegedly broken on a number of occasions and is trying to scrap altogether.

Last week the Federal Trade Commission issued a very rare public statement, stating it was closely watching Twitter’s moves under Elon Musk with “deep concern”, after three privacy and compliance officers quit.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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