LISTEN: The future of Elon Musk's empire was in peril in 2016. New documents reveal more about the desperate plan to save it.

Business Insider US
Elon Musk.
  • Tesla shareholders filed a lawsuit against the company in 2016, alleging that CEO Elon Musk pushed the company to buy SolarCity to enrich himself. They said it was a breach of fiduciary duty.
  • On Thursday, several depositions (including one of Musk) and documents included in the suit were published on the website PlainSite, an organisation focused on transparency in the US judicial system. The Think Computer Foundation originally obtained the documents.
  • Some documents showed that SolarCity was facing a liquidity crisis when Tesla bought it, and that some Tesla board members had a lot to lose personally if the deal didn't go through. The documents also showed that the Tesla solar-roof-tile product, which was unveiled to the public just before the acquisition was approved by the board, didn't work.
  • An email from Musk included in the lawsuit showed that he pushed to move up the presentation of the solar tile to convince the board to approve the SolarCity acquisition.
  • "Latest feedback from major investors is very negative on SolarCity," Musk said in an email to Peter Rive, SolarCity's cofounder, on September 16, 2016. "We need to show them what the integrated product looks like. They just don't get it. Needs to happen before the vote, so maybe aim for October 28th for a joint solar roof and Powerwall 2 unveiling."
  • Musk's lawyers have argued he didn't really control the process for buying SolarCity because he didn't vote on the deal, and that the stockholders who voted on the deal were fully informed of what was going on at the two companies.
  • Tesla did not respond to multiple requests for comments for this story.
  • Listen to Linette Lopez's story below, or read it in full here.

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