What we know about Tesla’s Bitcoin sale

April 29, 2021, 9:00 AM UTC

Good morning,

Technically Tesla is a car company. But lately all anyone wants to talk about is the company’s foray into Bitcoin. That conversation heated up this week following Tesla’s Q1 earnings call on April 26.

CEO Elon Musk said the electric vehicle maker “surpassed $1 billion in non-GAAP net income for the first time.” But CFO Zach Kirkhorn a.k.a. “Master of Coin” garnered even more attention for his comments and disclosures about the company’s BTC stake.

“We are making progress reducing various forms of debt,” Kirkhorn told investors. “We also invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin during the quarter, then trimmed our position by 10%, which contributed to a small gain in our Q1 financials.”

The company said trimming its position was a way to test the liquidity of the currency, a test that it seemed to pass with flying colors. In regard to Tesla’s future plans in digital currency space, “We do believe long term in the value of Bitcoin,” Kirkhorn said. “So it is our intent to hold what we have long term and continue to accumulate Bitcoin from transactions from our customers as they purchase vehicles.”

My colleague Shawn Tully took a deep dive into Tesla’s Bitcoin stake this week in his article, “We just learned a lot about Tesla’s Bitcoin bet.” Shawn writes (bolds are mine): Bitcoin skeptic Dave Portnoy, the celebrity blogger, ripped Musk for perpetrating a con. “So am I understanding this correctly? He pumps it. It goes up. Then he dumps it and makes a fortune,” tweeted the founder of Barstool Sports. Bitcoin fans fretted that Musk was souring on the signature token he’d done so much to promote.

Sword drawn, Musk riposted to foil Portnoy and reassure the loyalists. “No, you do not,” he responded to Portnoy’s tweet. “I have not sold any of my Bitcoin. Tesla sold 10% of its holdings essentially to prove liquidity of Bitcoin as an alternative to holding cash on the balance sheet. This was apparently the first time Musk disclosed that he himself owns Bitcoin.

Shawn weighed in again Wednesday night following the company’s 10Q release: The filing provided new detail on the market value of its Bitcoin holdings that for the first time, allows observers to calculate what it paid for the coins, and assess the full scale of its gains so far.

The big number: Tesla disclosed that the “full market value” of its current holdings is $2.48 billion, as of March 31. That day, Bitcoin closed at $59,918. So we know that as of that date, Tesla owned approximately 41,390 coins ($2.48 billion divided by $59,918 per coin). In its press release, Tesla stated that it sold 10% of its Bitcoin in Q1, collecting $272 million in cash proceeds. So prior to trimming its position, Tesla owned around 46,000 tokens. It then sold ten percent, or 4610, to raise the $272 million.

Shawn runs all the numbers on what Tesla has made, what it still holds, and how the world of Bitcoin accounting works. You can read the full story here.

See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

A report by Rimini Street, Inc., a global provider of enterprise software products and services, takes a look at CFO’s perceptions of digital transformation. The global survey of more than 1,500 CFOs and senior financial leaders across 13 markets covering most industries gauged their IT spending priorities, methods on measuring the ROI on tech, and their perspective on the CFO-CIO partnership. Digital transformation is expanding the need for a close collaboration between IT and finance, the report found. 

Rimini Street, Inc.

Going deeper

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated many companies' commitment to sustainability and accountability, according to a global survey commissioned by ING. The report, "Now or never: A new bar for sustainability," found that 57% of companies surveyed are accelerating green transformation plans, and 72% of investors said they are increasing their ambitions in regard to ESG outcomes in their portfolios. The data is based on a survey of 450 companies in seven sectors and 100 institutional investors.


Urian Yap was named CFO at Madison Realty Capital, a real estate private equity firm. Yap most recently served a senior vice president at The Blackstone Group.

Kevin M. Dotts was named CFO at One Call, which provides workers' compensation industry and ancillary services for Medicare and Medicaid, effective immediately. He replaces outgoing CFO Fred Pensotti. Dotts most recently served as CFO of ModivCare.


"You get one dose and you're all set for flu and for COVID."

— Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel on the company's plan to develop a high efficacy flu vaccine and then merge it with COVID variables, in a conversation with Fortune editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf during Fortune's 2021 virtual Brainstorm Health conference on April 27. 

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