Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold another $1 billion in TSLA shares this week. Musk parted with 934,091 shares of his electric vehicle company on Friday.
Musk has been selling off massive amounts of his stake in Tesla since November 8 when he made a poll on Twitter asking users if he should sell 10% of his shares. Musk has been shedding TSLA ever since. He has now sold 10.1 million shares for $10.9 billion.
Experts estimate that this brings him over halfway to his goal, with MarketWatch saying that “Assuming Musk intends to sell 10% of his shares, he’s more than halfway there. Before the sales began, his 10% stake amounted to about 17 million shares —so after Thursday’s sales, he has about 6.9 million shares to go.”
Over 3 million Twitter users participated in the CEO’s poll, with 57.9% of voters supporting his desire to sell ten percent of his stock. Musk is the largest shareholder in the company.
Because of the way Musk’s stake in his company is structured, he is incapable of avoiding taxes on his stock options the way executives typically do. This has caused many to believe that Musk is selling his shares in an effort to pay the taxes he has amassed.
Musk’s portrayed his move as being a statement on tax avoidance, but it seems his sales are necessary. The multi-billionaire initially contextualized his desire to sell his shares as being connected to Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden’s latest plan to introduce more stringent taxes for the United Sates’ billionaires, targeting their investments, which are typically only taxed after being sold, and thus financially “realized.”
“Much has made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 percent of my Tesla stock,” Musk wrote. Then he asked his followers, “Do you support this?”
Although Musk promised to “abide by the results” no matter what the outcome was, many experts believe that his Twitter poll was a stunt meant to spin the fact that he was queuing up to sell stock anyway, with one CNBC report stating that the CEO would be racked with $15 billion in taxes on his investments alone.
Senator demands billionaire income tax as Elon Musk’s wealth climbs
Musk has openly butted heads with Senator Wyden over his plan to tax the ultra-wealthy. Wyden responded to Musk’s poll by saying that “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.”
Musk seems to be entering the peak of his professional success with companies Tesla and SpaceX — and his personal wealth has climbed to new heights as a result. Tesla shares closed at an all-time high of $909.68 at the end of October, just two days after the company published its revenue and profits for Q3, which were also at a record high. Tesla’s market cap is approximately $860 billion.
The 50-year-old has also taken over the number one spot on the list of the world’s wealthiest people. Musk is the third person in history to have amassed a $200 billion fortune, according to Forbes.