Tesla CEO Elon Musk made noise on Twitter again over the weekend, asking his 62.8 million followers if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock. That amounts to $20 billion in stocks. According to analyst Daniel Ives of WedBush Securities, Musk owns about 23% of Tesla’s stock.
“I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes,” Musk said in a reply to his poll. 57.9% of respondents voted for Musk to sell the Tesla stock, and 42.1% said no. The poll caused Tesla shares to slump more than 6% at the opening bell Monday.
The poll was meant to be a contribution to the debate over taxing billionaires on unrealized gains. Democrats have been pushing for billionaires to pay taxes when the price of the stocks they hold goes up, even if they don’t sell any shares.
“Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere,” Musk said in another reply to the poll. “I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.”
However, it appears Musk was going to have to sell a big chunk of his Tesla stock regardless of the results of the poll. According to multiple reports, Musk has to pay $10 billion in taxes due to stock options that vest next summer. Musk got those stock options nearly a decade ago.
According to Ives, many on Wall Street assumed Musk would be selling closer to 5% of his Tesla stock. However, even doubling that number doesn’t cause Musk or his firm great concern. Ives said it’s better for Musk to “rip the Band-Aid off now” and avoid speculation.
Last week, Tesla shares hit an all-time intraday high of $1,243.49 per share. While shares fell early Monday, they’re still up nearly 60% for the year.
Musk is known for his market-shattering tweets. Last Tuesday, Tesla stock tumbled more than 3% after Musk tweeted that a deal to sell 100,000 Teslas to Hertz had not yet been signed. Hertz said the cars were already being delivered.
Ives called the poll “another bizarre soap opera that can only happen to one company and one CEO in the world, Musk.”