Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold $5 billion worth of company shares, days after launching a Twitter poll in which millions voted on whether he should sell 10% of his massive holding in the electric carmaker.
The eccentric billionaire, who is estimated to be worth over $300 billion, sold 4.5 million shares this week, according to regulatory filings made on Wednesday.
However, they made no suggestion that the choice was influenced by the unique virtual referendum he held on Saturday.
A $1.1 billion block of shares was sold on Monday to satisfy tax obligations incurred as a result of Musk exercising stock options, but the sale was initiated under a pre-arranged trading plan established in September, according to the filings.
It was unclear whether the remaining share transactions notified on Tuesday and Wednesday — around 3.6 million shares valued at approximately $4 billion — were likewise scheduled in advance of the Twitter poll.
On Saturday Musk tweeted,
“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?”
“I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes,” he added in another tweet after he posted the vote to his more than 62 million followers.
Nearly 58 percent of the 3.5 million votes cast in the poll were in favor of him proceeding with the sale.
– Not 10% – But to reach a 10% sale of his overall interest in Tesla, the 50-year-old South African would have to sell millions more shares than he has already done this week.
Musk’s fortune has increased significantly as a result of the recent surge in Tesla’s stock price, which has risen from around $130 at the start of 2020 to $1,222.09 last Friday.
Tesla’s stock price plummeted on Monday following the weekend poll, erasing $50 billion from Musk’s net worth, but the company rebounded on Wednesday, increasing more than 4% to close at $1,067.95.
Musk’s tweets on Saturday came in response to a plan by US Congressional Democrats to increase taxes on the ultra-wealthy by targeting equities, which are typically taxed only when sold.
The spectacle sparked by Musk’s involvement on a grave topic — economic inequality in the United States and who should pay for social safety net services — did not go over well with opponents.
“Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” tweeted US Senator Ron Wyden.
“It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax,” he added, drawing a personal insult in a reply from Musk.