Crypto bull Elon Musk on Thursday evening issued a cryptic tweet that many in the world of digital assets were interpreting as the billionaire’s breakup with bitcoin.
About an hour later, he followed that with this tweet:
A number of Musk’s recent tweets have sparked in the crypto community a mix of ebullience, confusion, apprehension and, at times, dread.
His social-media missives have had outsize influence on the prices of dogecoin and bitcoin and he’s at least partly blamed for the extant slump in bitcoin and the broader crypto complex. An article last month in The Wall Street Journal described him as bitcoin’s biggest influencer.
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The price of dogecoin DOGEUSD, -5.54%, for which Musk has been one of its biggest champions, was down 5.5%, changing hands at 38 cents.
Last month, Musk tweeted that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin as payment for its vehicles, citing the large carbon footprint of digitally mining for bitcoin. The tweet is still reverberating in crypto circles, reigniting a debate about the sustainability of bitcoin mining.
Although holding steady lately, bitcoin prices are still down 42% from a mid-April peak at $64,829.14. Dogecoin, the meme asset created back in 2013, remains off 48% from its peak at 74.07 cents in early May.
Back in February, Tesla revealed that it acquired some $1.5 billion in bitcoin in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
MarketWatch’s sister publication Barron’s estimates that Tesla paid about $38,000 per bitcoin, basing that value on the average price of the asset between Tesla’s fourth-quarter conference call on Jan. 27, where it didn’t mention any bitcoin holdings, and the filing date.
Musk has created confusion about his position in bitcoin before. Back in mid May, he issued a one-word response, “Indeed,” to someone on Twitter using the handle @cryptoWhale, who said that “Bitcoiners are going to slap themselves next quarter when they find out Tesla dumped the rest of their #Bitcoin holdings,” The message continued to say that the Tesla CEO would be right to dump his stake given how much criticism he receives from the community.
However, Musk later attempted to clarify by tweeting that he had not yet sold any of Tesla’s cache of bitcoin.
This time around it isn’t clear what Musk is trying to communicate, but some were fearing the worst. Billy Markus, who helped co-found dogecoin and who is a prominent crypto bull, tweeted: “Elon… I put my trust in you.”
An email to Tesla was immediately returned.
To be sure, bitcoin is still up solidly so far in 2021, up 33%, and dogecoin is up over 7,800% in the year to date. By comparison, traditional assets have seen more mundane gains. Gold futures GC00, +1.06% are down 1.6% thus far in the year; the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.51% is up almost 13%, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.91% has gained roughly 12% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +1.47% has climbed 5.6% in the year to date.