Musk’s Bitcoin Backpedaling Is Latest in Long Line of Turnabouts

Tesla Inc.’s abrupt about-face on Bitcoin is nothing new for Elon Musk.

The chief executive officer has U-turned on many occasions before this week’s surprise decision to suspend accepting the cryptocurrency for Tesla vehicle purchases.

Here are a few other notable examples:

‘Funding Secured’

Musk shocked the business world with his August 2018 tweet saying he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. He claimed he had secured funding for the maneuver and wrote that investor support had been confirmed.

Two weeks later, Musk aborted the mission, saying most Tesla shareholders believed the company was better off remaining public. After the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued, Musk and the company each agreed to pay $20 million, and he was barred from serving as chairman for three years.

Job Cuts

Musk said on several occasions in 2018 that Tesla was on the cusp of profitability as it ramped up production of Model 3 sedans. “Our earnings profile has flipped dramatically,” he wrote to shareholders in October of that year.

So it was jarring when the CEO announced in January 2019 that the road ahead for Tesla would be “very difficult” and that the company needed to dismiss 7% of employees. In June of that year, he wrote in an internal memo that Tesla was cutting more jobs so that it would never have to do so again. He told sales and marketing staff early the following year that their roles were at risk.

Retail Reversal

Tesla announced in February 2019 it planned to close stores in all but a small number of high-traffic locations as a cost-saving measure that would allow the company to sell the Model 3 for $35,000.

The carmaker backtracked just 10 days later, deciding to keep stores open and raising the prices of its vehicles as a result.

Capital Raises

Musk has repeatedly flip-flopped with regard to whether Tesla has needed to raise money. In October 2019, he said the goal was for the company to fund itself, only to then reopen the door to outside capital six months later.

In early 2020, Musk said raising money didn’t make sense for Tesla. The company announced a $2 billion stock offering two weeks later and ended up raising a total of about $12 billion last year.


In September, Musk told the New York Times he would not get vaccinated, saying he wasn’t at risk for Covid-19. When columnist Kara Swisher pressed further on his views about the virus, the CEO threatened to end the interview.

Last month, Musk tweeted that he supported vaccines in general and Covid-19 inoculations specifically. “The science is unequivocal,” he wrote.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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