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Tesla Stock Remains Volatile as Musk Sells 3.5 Million Shares

Published: November 11, 2021
GRUENHEIDE, GERMANY - SEPT. 03: Tesla head Elon Musk talks to the press as he arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on Sept. 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany. (Image: Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

In a flurry of trading on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, disposed of more than 3.5 million shares of Tesla stock worth over US$3.88 billion, a transaction that was not marked as 10b5, meaning they were not scheduled sell offs. 

On Nov. 6, Musk took to Twitter to ask his 62.7 million followers to vote on whether or not he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock and pay taxes on his gains. Many believe Musk’s poll was a direct rebuttal of Senator Ron Wyden’s proposal to tax unrealized gains for billionaires.

It appears this week’s trading is a step forward in fulfilling his promise to abide by the results of the Twitter poll which attracted more than 3.5 million votes and resulted in 57.9 percent of voters supporting the sale and 42.1 percent opposed. To date Musk’s Twitter poll has attracted 148.8 thousand likes.

Musk still holds more than 166 million shares of Tesla stock worth approximately US$177.45 billion. 

The sale follows a volatile week for Tesla shares. Shares of Tesla slumped by more than 15 percent on Monday and Tuesday following Musk’s Twitter poll but rebounded by more than four percent the following Wednesday. On Thursday at 12:47 EST it was up again by 14 basis points floating around US$1,069 a share. 

Musk’s move was not entirely inspired by his Twitter poll. Musk had previously planned to sell Tesla stock in order to pay tax obligations he had for stock options. 

“The sales, disclosed in two regulatory filings late Wednesday, will cover tax obligations for stock options granted to Musk in September. He exercised options to buy just over 2.1 million shares for $6.24 each. The company’s stock closed Wednesday at $1,067.95 per share,” The Houston Chronicle reported. 

According to forms filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk adopted a trading plan on Sept. 14 to sell options that are due to expire next year. This plan was concocted nearly two months prior to his Twitter poll. 

On Oct. 27, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon tabled a proposal titled “Billionaires Income Tax” which argues that a special tax should be applied “to roughly 700 taxpayers and raise hundreds of billions of dollars, ensuring the wealthiest people in the country pay their fair share toward historic investments in child care, paid leave, and addressing the climate crisis.”

Wyden referred to Musk’s Twitter poll as a “stunt” and fired back at Musk tweeting, “Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll. It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax.” After 5-days Wyden’s tweet garnered under 1,700 likes.