Elon Musk Sells $5 Billion in Tesla Shares

After running a poll on Twitter in which he promised to sell ten percent of his Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) if his followers approved it, Elon Musk has sold slightly over $5 billion in TSLA.

That includes 934,000 shares worth $1.1 billion, which he will use to cover tax obligations related to exercising stock options for nearly 2.2 million Tesla shares. He also sold 3.6 million shares, worth about $4 million, that he owned through a trust.

According to regulatory filings, Elon Musk had an option to buy 22.86 million shares in Tesla for $6.25 apiece. With his exercise of the option to buy 2.2 million shares at that price, he still has the option to buy about 20 million more shares at that price by the end of next August.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not yet weighed in on Musk Tweeting about buying or selling Tesla stock, as it had in the past.

Previous wranglings between Musk, Tesla, and the SEC include a settlement of accusations that Musk manipulated the price of Tesla stock when he Tweeted that he had enough cash on hand to take Tesla private. Tesla had agreed to hire a lawyer to approve all Musk’s tweets. Tesla’s failure to do so has been the subject of at least one investor lawsuit.

Musk has since admitted that taking Tesla private would be impossible, even while floating the idea of opening a Starlink IPO at some point in the future.

It is not immediately clear what Musk will do with the cash (besides pay capital gain taxes), though he is likely to reinvest it. He has previously sold his Californian homes with the stated intent of investing the money in SpaceX.

According to Forbes, Elon Musk is currently the world’s wealthiest person with a fortune of nearly $280 billion, edging out aerospace rival Jeff Bezos. This has led to calls that the world’s wealthiest people pay “wealth taxes” on unrealized capital gains.

Elon Musk was quick to criticize that idea, calling for greater transparency in how the money is used by both the government and the United Nations. Some have also expressed concern that additional taxes would only be used on government waste and already-bloated military budgets. In the past, even the U.S. military has said that it doesn’t need more tanks despite Congress’ insistence in funding the purchase of tanks.

Musk, on the other hand, seems more hyperfocused on moving away from the use of fossil fuels to power cars and making humanity a multi-planet species. He has made donations for community improvement projects and education in essentially SpaceX’s backyard in Boca Chica, Texas. He also notably rents a $50,000 house on SpaceX property after having sold most of his real estate to sink the money into his companies.

His statements on the latter often echoes the late Stephen Hawkings’ support for interplanetary settlements as a relief valve for overpopulation. Theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku has also endorsed Musk’s plans for Mars.

Tesla is currently part of the S&P 500 index, due in part to the delivery of nearly 500,000 vehicles in 2020 and a string of record-setting quarters for delivering vehicles for 2021.