Independent certainly doesn’t mean uninvolved. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday, Oracle chief executive and newly-minted Tesla board member Larry Ellison has revealed that he owns 3 million shares of the electric car company known to the NASDAQ as $TSLA—an amount that, at the stock’s January 8th pre-market value of $334.96, works out to a cool one billion dollars. Or more.
It’s a particularly notable amount of money considering Ellison, who has described himself as a close friend of CEO Elon Musk, was brought on as an independent director at Tesla last month as part of the company’s moves to placate the SEC in the wake of Elon Musk’s tweets claiming that he intended to take the carmaker private at $420 per share and that he had “funding secured” for such a move, which in turn led to the company being sued by the regulatory commission for allegedly misleading investors. Ellison, along with Walgreens executive vice-president and human resources head Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, joined the board as of December 27th.
Tesla shares were up 1.21 percent, to $339.03 per share, as of half an hour after the opening of market trading.
Previously, Ellison—whose net worth is estimated at $54.5 billion, according to Forbes, making him the 10th-richest person on the planet—has stated he fells Musk had been treated unfairly by the media, mocking both the widespread coverage of the CEO smoking marijuana on The Joe Rogan Show podcast and journalists for writing stories decrying Musk.
“Why should I believe you, as opposed to my friend Elon? We’re out here watching this rocket land, which I think is really cool, and you’re there in front of your Apple Macintosh, and typing up an article saying Elon’s an idiot,” Ellison said during an October analyst meeting where he also said Tesla was his second-biggest investment, according to Bloomberg and Business Insider. “You know, he’s landing rockets on robot drone rafts in the ocean. And you’re saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Well, who else is landing rockets? You ever land a rocket on a robot drone? Who are you?”
Impressive a chunk of change as $1 billion is, Ellison’s 3 million shares of Tesla stock pale in comparison to CEO Musk’s piece of the pie. Musk holds more than 10 times as much of the carmaker he made famous; he held 33.7 million shares of the company as of March 21st of last year, according to SEC filings, and stated last October that he intended to purchase an additional $20 million worth of stock at the next open trading window on top of the $10 million worth he bought in May 2018 and the $24 million he purchased in June. That would put Musk’s total stake in the company at a value of roughly $11.3 billion.
Still, those 3 million shares would effectively seem to make Ellison the second-largest individual shareholder in the electric carmaker. According to Investopedia, Tesla chief technology officer and co-founder Jeffrey Straubel owned 326,301 shares of the company as of a 2017 SEC filing, which at the time made him the second-largest individual holder of $TSLA.
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