Thursday, Tesla (TSLA) said that 75% of the bitcoin (BTC) it had on its balance sheet had been sold. This was in the report about how much money the company made. It looks like the company was able to make a little money off of the BTC it said it would buy at the beginning of 2021.
When word got out that Tesla had bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoins for the first time, the price of BTC went up by more than 60% in the month that followed. But the fact that Tesla sold its tokens doesn’t seem to have hurt Bitcoin’s price or the market’s mood. Since Tesla announced the sales, the price of bitcoin has gone up by a small amount over the course of the day.
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One reason could be that Tesla lied about how the Bitcoin sale was going. Musk said that the sale “should not be seen as a judgment on bitcoin” during the company’s most recent earnings call. Instead, most of the money from the sale was taken out of the U.S. economy in case it slowed down.
Most people don’t read past the headline, which says “Tesla sold its bitcoin” in this case. As a reporter, I find it hard to say that most people only read the headline.
Even though the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has dropped a lot this year, the market for them is very different now than it was 18 months ago. El Salvador’s hard but important experience with bitcoin is a good example of this.
Even though nothing is certain, it seems like the market has at least hit a temporary bottom. Bulls are just now starting to tell a story that goes against the fact that Tesla is going to sell its shares.
But another important thing is how people think of Elon Musk and Tesla now that they bought a lot of bitcoin 18 months ago. Almost all of these changes weren’t good.
Musk has been known to act on impulse for a long time, and he has been self-destructive at least since 2018. In the same year, he called a rescue diver a “pedo guy” and paid a big fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission for tweeting that he would take Tesla private “at $420 per share.”
Because of this, people have looked at Musk’s mistakes over the past 18 months even more closely than they did his temper tantrums in 2018.
Musk has been tweeting about dogecoin (DOGE) for years. At first, it may have been a joke, but when dogecoin dropped this year, just as Musk said it would, he was sued for $285 million.
His strange and half-hearted attempt to buy Twitter was, of course, the last straw (TWTR). Then, he tried to get out of the deal by giving lame and weak excuses.
People who follow Musk’s businesses may have noticed that Tesla has yet to deliver on the promise of “full self-driving” and has put off the release of the much-hyped Cybertruck, even as traditional automakers make big inroads into the market for electric vehicles. Along with the rest of the market, Tesla stock has lost a lot of the gains it made in 2020.
When everything is taken into account, Tesla investors and fans of “green technology” may still have a lot of respect for Musk. But for a lot of other people, he’s just a clownish, hype-obsessed, and too capitalist symbol. He doesn’t have to answer to the people who gave him money, and he doesn’t know how bad he is to the people who live under him.
Even with all the caveats about freeing up money, Tesla’s bitcoin sale proves what some of us have known for a long time: Elon Musk is not the person to ask about cryptocurrencies. He is a follower, but he stands out because he talks a lot, acts quickly, and doesn’t know what to do.
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