Over the weekend, Elon Musk made headlines by tweeting, as he often does, and in one of the tweets, proposed selling 10 percent of his stock in Tesla. At the time, he said, “I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes.” Now, SEC filings (1, 2) reveal the exec has exercised his options on over two million shares of the automaker and sold 934,091 of them (via CNBC). At the company’s current valuation, the shares he sold are worth about $1.1 billion.
So did he do it because someone on Twitter voted one way or the other? In this case, no, because as analyst Matt Levine points out, the documents reveal the plan for this sale has been established since September 14th.
As we told you over the weekend, Musk’s compensation plan granted him a number of shares that were due to expire in 2022. To exercise that grant, he will need to sell about $15 billion in shares, as he described in detail at the Code Conference on September 28th, two weeks after arranging this sale. At that time, Musk said, “I have a bunch of options that are expiring early next year, so a huge block of options will sell in Q4. Because I have to, or they’ll expire.”
The financial benefits and penalties that apply to Musk mean Wednesday’s sale is not the last one — and despite Musk’s edgelord persona, it doesn’t matter what you say on Twitter about billionaires and taxes.