Profit Taking or Dumping?     

Elon Musk's bitcoin selloff has the crypto community divided


Elon Musk and Tesla are either dumping in Bitcoiners or out to prove a larger point 

Tesla, Inc.’s Form 10-Q quarterly earnings report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on 27 April 2021 by CFO Zach Kirkhorn offered more than two dozen references to Bitcoin. 

Of particular concern to legacy financial press was “Note 3 – Digital Assets, Net.” It revealed to the SEC Tesla’s having “purchased and received $1.50 billion of bitcoin,” ending in “realized gains of $128 million through sales during the three months ended March 31, 2021.” 

Furthermore, under “Sources and Conditions of Liquidity,” Kirkhorn’s filing explained, “In the first quarter of 2021, we also sold an aggregate $272 million in bitcoin,” noting, however, “we believe bitcoin is highly liquid, although we generally intend to hold our bitcoin long-term regardless of the manner of acquisition. However, digital assets may be subject to volatile market prices, which may be unfavorable at the times when we may want or need to liquidate them.”

Mainstream analysts seized upon Musk and Tesla’s so-called paper hands, causing speculative markets to shake ever-so. The richest man in the world and tech’s most prominent company seemed to lack faith in money’s future. 

Dunking upon Musk and Tesla caught the attention of on-again, off-again speculator and Bro-lifestyle proponent Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports fame. Portnoy famously entered the crypto craze around Bitcoin’s seemingly forever low five digit price point. Even the Winklevoss twins made an attempt back then to buttress Portnoy’s trading spine.

In the end, he sold as quickly as he entered, complaining he just couldn’t wrap his head around what Bitcoin was. 

That was some $40,000 or so ago. 

Needless to type, Portnoy’s skittishness cost him a financial opportunity of a lifetime. Now that Bitcoin is resting rather comfortably at $57,000-ish, Portnoy returned to announce he’d plunked down enough to earn one solid Bitcoin.  

And then news of Musk and Tesla perhaps pulling back began making its rounds. Portnoy tweeted in response, turning close to a maximalist in tone:

“So am I understanding this correctly? @elonmusk buys #bitcoin. Then he pumps it. It goes up. Then he dumps it and [makes] a fortune. Listen I own 1 #Bitcoin but #bitcoin is exactly who we thought it was. Just don’t be last 1 #HODLing the bag.” 

Surely feeling the sting of countless trolls and article hit pieces, Musk answered:

“No, you do not. I have not sold any of my Bitcoin. Tesla sold 10% of its holdings essentially to prove liquidity of Bitcoin as an alternative to holding cash on [the] balance sheet.”

We suspect crypto and legacy financial worlds will continue to butt heads, often challenging one another’s assumptions. One thing is very, very clear: Bitcoin has now been mainstreamed. 


How mainstreamed is crypto? How much sway and influence do it and its most prominent evangelist (Musk) have combined? 

British tabloid The Sun has been guessing of late. They report someone holding a significant amount of Doge is now worth $11 billion. The outlet attempted desperately to connect the fantastic sum to Elon Musk and his playful embrace of the memecoin. “However,” they concede, “there is no actual evidence the Tesla boss - worth a reported £179bn - owns a significant amount of dogecoin.” 

Basecamp Takes a Cue From Coinbase

Changes at Basecamp is the latest attempt by a tech company to divorce itself from never-ending controversies and incessant progressive politicking. Company founder Jason Fried stressed, “This may look like compression. A reduction, an elimination. And it is. It's precisely that. We're compressing X to allow for expansion in Y. A return to whole minds that can focus fully on the work we choose to do. A return to a low-ceremony steady state where we can make decisions and move on. A return to personal responsibility and good faith trust in one another to do our own individual jobs well. A return to why we started the company. A return to what we do best.”

The familiar sounding sentiment is close both in spirit and practice to crypto exchange Coinbase’s move in Fall of last year, describing itself as “a missing focused company.” Its author, CEO Brian Armstrong, noticed Basecamp’s stand this week, characterizing it as courageous. 

Disaster Girl 

Call her Disaster Woman nowadays. Zoë Roth was the then-five year old juxtaposed smiling in front of a burning structure 16 years ago, making meme legend and a go-to comment gif favorite. Non-fungible token (NFT) auction site hosted a recent NFT bidding war of Ms. Roth’s notorious mug in all its glory. @3fmusic won the image for a cool 180 ether (ETH), valued at roughly $500,000. 

Bitcoin Fog Founder Arrested 

Operating since 2011, Bitcoin Fog was described by the US Department of Justice as “the longest-running cryptocurrency ‘mixer,’ gaining notoriety as a go-to money laundering service for criminals seeking to hide their illicit proceeds from law enforcement. Over the course of its decade-long operation, Bitcoin Fog moved over 1.2 million bitcoin – valued at approximately $335 million at the time of the transactions. The bulk of this cryptocurrency came from darknet marketplaces and was tied to illegal narcotics, computer fraud and abuse activities, and identity theft.” Founder Roman Sterlingov is charged with “money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and money transmission without a license in the District of Columbia,” according to the formal complaint

We broke down the Bitcoin Fog story on “The Hash” this week.

Bitcoin Pioneer and 3D Gun Legal Victory

Open source 3D gun printing advocate and Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson zapped a celebratory email to supporters this week. Calling it a “tremendous milestone,” Wilson addressed his remarks to “The American Rifleman.” He explained that after “seven years, Defense Distributed has at last secured a legal victory in the Ninth Circuit. All CAD files, blueprints and manuals for small arms are free to be legally downloaded at DEFCAD. Firearms CAD data is available on an unlimited basis and can be downloaded worldwide.” Wilson has a long history with Bitcoin, of course, most notoriously by working with Amir Taaki on such privacy-centric products as Dark Wallet

By C. Edward Kelso, NBTV contributor.

Find more of Kelso’s work here: @coinfugazi /

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