Friday, October 30, 2020
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Friday, October 30, 2020

Go read this Wall Street Journal story about Elon Musk’s personal finances

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In one of a series of wild tweets posted last week, Elon Musk stated he would be “selling almost all physical possessions” and that he would “own no house.” He appears to be actually following through with that promise, as chronicled in a great story in The Wall Street Journal about Musk’s personal finances that you should go read.

According to the WSJ, despite being worth an estimated $39 billion on paper:

…he has to borrow, sometimes a lot, to pay for his lifestyle and business investments without liquidating shares that help him maintain control of the companies he runs. About half his Tesla stock is pledged as collateral for personal loans, an April 28 financial filing shows. Maintaining his equity stake—about 20%, or around $29 billion at its current valuation—is important for him to keep control over the Silicon Valley auto maker.

Musk also doesn’t take a salary at Tesla, but he apparently became eligible for stock options worth more than $1 billion this week. To get that money, he will need an eye-watering $592 million to exercise the option, according to the WSJ. It’s not clear if Musk has the money on hand to exercise that option or if the money raised from the house sales will be used to help pay for the sum. “Mr. Musk said he wasn’t selling his possessions because he needs the money,” the WSJ reported.

The article also lists a few times Musk has said he’s cash poor. Here’s one example:

Before Tesla went public, Mr. Musk told a judge during a contentious divorce with his first wife that he had run out of cash and had taken on emergency loans from friends to support his family and pay living expenses.

Here’s another:

Last year, Mr. Musk’s ability to access cash came up again during a defamation lawsuit over comments he made about a man involved in the rescue of a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave in 2018. A lawyer in the case said in a filing that Mr. Musk had described himself as “financially illiquid.”

The whole article has a lot of history about Musk, interesting information about his finances backed up by regulatory filings, and numerous quotes from Musk himself, and I sincerely recommend taking 10 minutes to read it in full.

Oh, and if you were wondering the status of Musk’s houses: he has listed three California mansions for sale and plans to sell four other houses in Bel-Air, according to the WSJ. Once the houses are sold, Musk does not know “where I will stay yet, but will probably rent a small house somewhere,” he said in an email to the WSJ.

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