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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Elon Musk suggests Tesla may have dumped bitcoin holdings

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Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and chief executive officer of Tesla, waves while arriving to a discussion at the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 9, 2020.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk implied in a Twitter exchange Sunday afternoon that the electric vehicle maker sold or may sell the rest of its bitcoin holdings, sending the price of the cryptocurrency down.

Bitcoin dipped around 8% to around $44,000 per coin.

A Twitter user who goes by @CryptoWhale said, “Bitcoiners are going to slap themselves next quarter when they find out Tesla dumped the rest of their holdings. With the amount of hate @elonmusk is getting, I wouldn’t blame him…”

Musk replied, “Indeed.”

A potential sale comes just days after Musk said the company planned to hold rather than sell the bitcoin it already has and intended to use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk has been a big supporter of cryptocurrencies, helping rally the prices of digital coins, including bitcoin, several times in the past year. In an SEC filing in February, Tesla revealed that it bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin. The company later said it registered a net gain of $101 million from sales of bitcoin during the quarter, helping to boost its net profits to a record high in the first quarter.

However, Musk seems to have reversed course in recent weeks in favor of dogecoin, the meme-inspired cryptocurrency. Tesla last week also “suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin,” out of concern over “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining.” The price of bitcoin dropped about 5% in the first minutes after Musk’s announcement.

Musk has since been hitting back on Twitter against users who are critical of his cryptocurrency stance. Influential venture investor Fred Wilson, a founding partner of Union Square Ventures, tweeted Friday: “He’s playing games. It is hard to take anyone who does that seriously. I’ve lost enormous respect for him over the last year because of it.”

Wilson added, “Deep respect for what he does with his talents. Less for what he does with his tweets.”

Musk is also pushing further into dogecoin. His aerospace venture, SpaceX, announced last week it would accept dogecoin as payment to launch “DOGE-1 mission to the Moon.” His endorsements have helped boost the price of the coin, pushing acceptance among some traders.

Crypto exchange platform Coinbase has said it would offer the digital coin in the next six-to-eight weeks. Other popular trading platforms among retail investors, Robinhood and Binance, already allow users to trade dogecoin.

— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

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