Technology

Elon Musk offloads another $3.9 billion in Tesla shares

Elon Musk has sold another $3.4 billion in Tesla shares, according to a series of forms filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. Musk has offloaded almost $20 billion in Tesla shares this year, mostly to finance his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.

Musk sold $8.4 billion in shares in April and another $6.9 billion in August. After his sales in April, he tweeted, “No further TSLA sales planned after today.” Then after the sales in August, he again said that he was done selling, and that those shares were offloaded in case he had to buy Twitter — at the time, he was embroiled in a lawsuit for attempting to back out of the deal.

Twitter has been struggling. Some major advertisers have paused spending on Twitter because of the change in control. A top ad exec, Sarah Personette, quit the day after Musk took over. Musk met with some advertisers himself, and the result was so bad that some execs shifted spending away from Twitter during the meeting, Vox Media’s Kara Swisher reported. Some of Musk’s comments and actions around moderation on Twitter have made advertisers particularly skittish. Twitter isn’t profitable and relies on advertising for the vast majority of its revenue. It will also have to pay roughly $1 billion a year in interest on the debt Musk took out in order to buy it.

One way Musk can make sure his loans are paid, regardless of Twitter’s advertising business, is to pay them himself. William Cohan at Puck has suggested that Musk paying the interest himself is a likely outcome. But to do that, Musk needs cash, and to get cash, he has to sell Tesla shares.