Elon Musk’s decision to round to $420 could cost him $170 million

Simple maths.
Simple maths.
Image: Reuters/Joe Skipper
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In an Aug. 16 interview with the New York Times, Elon Musk revealed that he fired off the fateful tweet saying he was considering taking Tesla private while driving himself to the airport. He says that he’d wanted to offer a roughly 20% premium over the price at the time for the electric car company’s stock. As he sat in his car in California, midday Aug. 7,  that would have been $419. Then he decided to round it up to $420, saying his funding for privatization was secured.

That extra $1 added more than $170 million to the price he would need to pay. He was then valuing the company at about $71.6 billion.

A  seemingly harmless decision to round up landed Musk with millions more in funding to find and in whole bunch of hot water about whether he was making some purposeful reference to marijuana with the 420 price.

“It seemed like better karma at $420 than at $419,” Musk told the New York Times. “But I was not on weed, to be clear. Weed is not helpful for productivity. There’s a reason for the word ‘stoned.’ You just sit there like a stone on weed.”

Regardless, how Musk will pay for the privatization at $420 a share is still unclear as it turns out the funding wasn’t really that secure. Tesla shares are now trading at about $305, down 11% from the day before Musk’s privatization tweet.