The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Elon Musk took to a Twitter poll to decide whether to sell a tenth of his Tesla stock. Twitter users said yes.

“I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes,” Musk wrote on Saturday.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacts during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, Calif. in 2019. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
2 min

SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk launched a Twitter poll over the weekend asking users whether he should part with 10 percent of his shares in the electric vehicle company.

Twitter users said yes. In a poll that amassed more than 3.5 million votes, 58 percent supported a sale.

Musk, the outspoken Tesla CEO who has gotten into regulatory trouble over some tweets, took the unusual step of crowdsourcing advice for his financial portfolio Saturday afternoon.

“I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes,” Musk wrote.

Such a sale would come as Tesla’s stock has ballooned past a trillion dollars in value, trading at more than $1,200 a share. Musk holds a more than 20 percent stake in the company, according to a regulatory filing from earlier this year.

Elon Musk moved to Texas and embraced celebrity. Can Tesla run on Autopilot?

It was not immediately clear if or when Musk would sell the stock. After the poll closed, he replied to a user saying, “I was prepared to accept either outcome.”

Tesla’s stock gains have propelled Musk to the title of world’s richest person, with an estimated net worth of $318 billion, according to Forbes. Musk launched his poll amid discussions around a billionaire tax in the U.S. Senate, which would tax unrealized gains of a handful of the richest Americans before such assets are sold.

Estimates have said Musk would pay as much as $50 billion over the tax’s first five years.

Musk said he does not take a cash salary or bonus, so “the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.”

Democrats’ billionaire tax would heavily target 10 wealthiest Americans, but alternative plan is emerging

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who proposed the tax in the U.S. Senate, criticized Musk’s poll Saturday on Twitter and said it only affirmed his proposal.

“Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” his tweet read. “It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax.”

Musk responded with a vulgar tweet about Wyden’s profile picture, which has since been retweeted more than 9,500 times.

Musk’s tweets have landed him in trouble in the past.

Elon Musk and the SEC resolve dispute over the Tesla CEO’s tweets

The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Musk and Tesla $20 million each, and Musk was stripped of his Tesla board chairmanship, after Musk tweeted in 2018 he had “Funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share.

An agreement with the regulatory body required Musk’s potentially market-moving tweets to be vetted by a securities lawyer.

Musk sent Tesla’s stock into a nosedive last May when he tweeted that he thought Tesla’s stock was overvalued, writing “Tesla stock price is too high imo,” shorthand for in my opinion.