The move came as the car maker feared the greater macro environment, and “given the uncertainty of the COVID lockdowns in China” they wanted to clear some cash flow.
The History of Tesla and Bitcoin
Musk built the first bitcoin position for Tesla in February 2021, which caused the market to move up 14% in one day. His original bet on the asset was for $1.5 billion, which was later carved down by 10% in April 2021. This move was “essentially to prove liquidity of Bitcoin”, as Musk put it.
However we later saw that Musk had concerns about Bitcoin mining and how it impacted the environment. His company swiftly moved to cancel bitcoin payments for their vehicles in May of 2021.
Formation of the Bitcoin Mining Council
Elon’s promotion of FUD around Bitcoin mining prompted Michael Saylor, a prominent Bitcoin evangelist, to form the Bitcoin Mining Council. The council is essentially a consortium of Bitcoin miners that voluntarily respond to surveys about their mining operations, including the energy mix they use. The council has updated their assessment of the energy mix for Bitcoin mining quarterly. In their recent report they published that almost 60% of the energy mix for Bitcoin mining is renewables.
The company has continued to block the sale of its vehicles for bitcoin as of July 2022 despite the weighting of renewables in the mining mix.
Elon’s Bitcoin Position vs Telsa’s
Elon has a personal bitcoin position, which he has previously asserted did not change despite Tesla selling in 2021. He has not disclosed any changes to his position after the recent news, but his tweets in early 2022 do give hope that his own bitcoin stash is safe.
Musk did state on the Q2 earning calls that despite the fact that Tesla sold bitcoin, the company is “open to increasing our Bitcoin holdings in the future, so this should not be taken as some verdict on Bitcoin.”
Of course Bitcoin Twitter exploded with reactions after the announcement. Prominent Bitcoin Maximalist Max Keiser doubled down on his statements from Bitcoin 2021: