- Tesla investor Leo Koguan questioned whether Elon Musk is intentionally crushing Tesla stock.
- On Friday morning, Tesla’s stock was trading at its lowest level since August 2020.
- Koguan has criticized Musk’s preoccupation with Twitter in recent weeks.
Leo Koguan, a major Tesla investor who once called himself “Elon’s fanboy,” questioned whether Elon Musk was intentionally sending the electric-car maker’s stock lower on Thursday.
Koguan, who is “one of Tesla’s largest individual shareholders,” per Bloomberg, had amassed about 22.6 million Tesla shares as of August 27, 2022. He made Forbes’ list of the 400 wealthiest people in the world in September in large part due to his investment in Tesla.
“That’s the indisputable evidence he deliberately pushed the price down in breach of his fiduciary duty,” Koguan tweeted on Thursday in response to another Twitter user who said Musk drove the price down when he sold more of his Tesla stock last year. “BOD didn’t stop him also in violation of its fiduciary duty. One should ask if both the CEO and BOD are acting in one person in violation of security law?”
In December, the Tesla CEO sold more of his holdings in the company after offloading nearly $40 billion in Tesla stocks in the past 15 months. At the time, he promised not to sell more stock for “probably two years from now,” but it’s a promise he’s made and broken in the past.
Koguan also questioned Musk’s intentions with Tesla’s stock earlier in the week.
“The one that can’t be named biggest betrayal, if and only if true, he purposely crushed Tesla stock price and its SH for his tax benefits and potential new stock options granted by himself bc he is both the CEO and BOD?” Koguan tweeted on Wednesday morning. “Fund Managers of Tesla, are you listening?”
Koguan directed his Wednesday tweet at Alex Lagetko, the founder of VSO Capital, a small private-investment firm. Lagetko said in a long Twitter thread in response to Koguan that he believes Musk “would benefit from sandbagging financial results (manifested in underreporting sales and profits),” pointing to Musk’s Tesla compensation plan — which has been contested in a shareholder lawsuit against Tesla and Musk.
Musk’s pay package centers on a series of goalposts around the carmaker’s financial growth which was set in place in 2018. Specifically, the plan involves a 10-year grant of 12 tranches of stock options, which are vested when Tesla hits certain targets. When each milestone is passed, Musk gets stock equal to 1% of outstanding shares at the time of the grant. The company has since surpassed the metrics.
“Because Musk achieved all Market Cap milestones in 2021, he no longer had any incentive under the compensation plan to maximize shareholder value,” Lagetko tweeted. “He had every incentive to see the stock lower (for tax reasons) or to pursue personal aspirations (purchasing Twitter) knowing he had a massive slug of fresh options coming which he could exercise when the shares are trading as low as possible.”
Musk, Koguan, and Lagetko did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.
On Friday morning, Tesla stock was trading around $105 per share, its lowest since August 12, 2020, amid slowing demand from China.
Earlier this year, Musk became the first person to ever lose $200 billion in net worth. The Tesla CEO’s fortune, largely tied to his shares in Tesla, declined as the company’s stock price tumbled. Some analysts have attributed the drop in share price to Musk’s focus on Twitter in addition to the economic downturn. But, last month Musk told shareholders he would make sure they “benefit from Twitter longterm.”
Koguan has been critical of Musk’s involvement with Twitter in the past. In December, he said on Twitter that Tesla needs a new CEO. Though, on Thursday, Koguan said he plans to buy over 1 million Tesla shares this month and told his followers on Twitter he is speaking out against Musk to protect “blind cult fanboys from themselves.”
“I was his blind fanboy, but no more. I can’t rescue Tesla alone,” he tweeted. “We need all SH and Institutional fund managers to correct the anomaly of Tesla governance bc we love Tesla.”