Elon Musk sells yet another $3.6 billion in TSLA stock to fund Twitter disaster

Entertainment

Elon Musk has sold another tranche of Tesla shares, this time worth $3.6 billion, amid ongoing chaos related to his Twitter takeover. The sale was announced in a Form 4 filing with the SEC on Wednesday night.

The sale represents almost 22 million shares of TSLA sold over the course of the last three trading days, at share prices between $156–$176. TSLA stock has fallen about 20 points in that time period, losing more than 10% of its value.

This drop has resulted in Musk losing his title as world’s richest man, a title he had first obtained in early 2021. He was supplanted by Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH.

Yesterday Musk took to Twitter to reassure Tesla shareholders that they would “benefit long term” from his Twitter ownership. We now know that, at the time, he was currently in the process of offloading tens of millions of shares.

This is not the first time Musk has sold TSLA shares since he first announced his bid to take over Twitter. The first was last December after running a Twitter poll about whether he should purchase the company or not, after which he claimed to have sold roughly enough of his stake in Tesla to fund the purchase.

But that’s not the only time he said he was done selling Tesla stock related to the Twitter acquisition. In August, we reported on him selling $6.9 billion in stock, after which he explicitly said “yes” when asked if he was “done selling.”

Musk then went on to sell another $3.9 billion in stock this November, after both of these pronouncements. He told Twitter employees in an all-hands meeting that this was necessary to “save” the site.

Today’s sale is Musk’s fourth major sale of Tesla stock related to the acquisition, now totaling about $16 billion worth. Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion, though he did gain additional funding in the form of loans from outside sources. Those loans have a total interest bill of about $1 billion yearly – a significant cost for a company that had heretofore lost on the order of $200 million per quarter, while it was publicly run.

While we don’t know about Twitter’s current financial situation as it is now private, available external signs point to trouble. There has been a drastic dropoff in advertising revenue, with advertisers pulling ads from the platform, and desktop visits to their ad manager software dropping by up to 85%.

Between additional costs for Twitter and dropping revenue, Musk seems to have seen the necessity of freeing up more funding for his new company. While Twitter’s new paid verification option may make up some of that revenue, it is unlikely to make a huge difference compared to the additional debt and loss of revenue that Twitter is currently facing.

In the past, Musk had repeatedly stated that he would be the last person to sell Tesla stock.

Electrek’s Take

Yesterday’s message that Tesla shareholders would “benefit long term” from Musk’s Twitter ownership led us to wonder: but how? In hindsight, it perhaps had something to do with preparing shareholders for today’s large stock sale announcement.

In the Electrek’s Take section for that article (which I encourage you all to read), Fred mentioned the echo chamber that Musk has created around himself, and that even the superfans allowed into that echo chamber are currently questioning whether Musk is fit to lead Tesla.

He certainly seems distracted, spending so much of his time on Twitter issues, and very little on Tesla issues. And now, more Tesla stock is being sold to “throw into the Twitter dumpster fire,” as Fred so succinctly wrote. This puts downward pressure on Tesla stock, which makes it difficult to believe that the Twitter takeover is helping TSLA shareholders or Tesla’s mission as a whole.

We here at Electrek are obviously interested in the electric vehicle revolution, as it is one of the most significant ways that we can decarbonize society. As such, we support Tesla’s mission and think that the leading company in automotive electrification should have competent leadership paying attention to the needs of the company.

It is clear that this distraction is harming the company’s perception in the public eye, and we would like to see less distraction from Tesla leadership.

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