According to financial filings released late Wednesday evening, the CEO of electric vehicle company Tesla has sold over 166 million shares valued at about $5 billion. Also, in what is being described as a flurry of trades, the CEO’s trust sold over 3.5 million shares valued at more than $3.88. The transactions were, however, not scheduled sales.
Last weekend, Elon Musk put up a poll on Twitter asking his fans if he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock. Out of his 62.5 million followers, 3,519,252 participated in the poll. While 42 percent voted ‘No’, 58 percent voted for ‘Yes’. The Twitter poll came with the caption “Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 percent of my Tesla stock”.
An earlier filing on Wednesday showed that the Tesla CEO was selling off a separate block of Tesla shares through a plan he started in September and those sales have amounted to more than 930,000 shares that are valued at more than $1.1 billion. Although it seems that the sale of his Tesla shares was largely based on the outcome of his Twitter poll, Elon Musk sold his shares to pay his tax obligations. As he does not earn a salary, the only way to fulfil his tax obligation is by selling off stock. Before the Twitter poll that seemed to help with his decision, Elon Musk tweeted that he was going to stick with the poll’s outcome. “I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes”, the tweet said. It is pertinent to know that irrespective of whatever the poll’s result would have been, the CEO would have still had to sell some of his shares. The recent filings show that Elon Musk was aware that some of his shares would be due for sale this week.
Tesla shares suffered a decline following the poll’s results. On Monday, Tesla shares were down by almost 5 percent, bringing a pause to the upward trend recorded through the year. Irrespective of this, the company’s shares are up over 47 percent this year, doubling from a year ago. The company also hit a new milestone of $1 trillion in valuation following Hertz order of 100,000 vehicles. Between Monday and Tuesday, Tesla shares fell over 15 percent, rebounded nearly 5 percent on Wednesday and was trading higher in after-hours trade on Thursday.
“Individuals like Elon Musk, like Jeff Bezos, have transformed life, and we want to keep them in control of their companies, as long as they’ve got the energy and the ambition to keep moving the business forward”, Ken Griffen, the CEO of Citadel said while speaking at DealBook Online Summit on Wednesday while emphasizing that he’d had preferred if Elon Musk didn’t sell.