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‘Free America Now’: billionaire Elon Musk joins protesters demanding lockdowns be lifted

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From Daily Mail:

  • Elon Musk fired off a series of tweets late on Tuesday protesting against the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions
  • The 48-year-old Tesla founder tweeted: ‘FREE AMERICA NOW’ 
  • His outburst came just as he was on the cusp of getting a $750 million payout from a bonus scheme that is linked to the electric car-maker’s share price
  • Shares of Tesla surged 10 percent at the beginning of the week ahead of the release of the company’s quarterly earning report on Wednesday
  • A stock slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to Tesla having to close its factory near San Francisco at the end of March and furlough workers.

Billionaire Elon Musk has slammed coronavirus lockdown measures by tweeting ‘Free America Now’ as he joined protesters from across the country in demanding restrictions be lifted. 

The Tesla founder fired off a series of tweets late on Tuesday protesting against the current lockdown restrictions and applauded some states, like Texas, which are now restarting their economies.

Musk’s Twitter outburst came just as he was on the cusp of getting a $750 million payout from a bonus scheme that is linked to the electric car-maker’s share price. 

He also tweeted a link to a story about Texas lifting some restrictions this week, saying: ‘Bravo Texas’.

Musk later clarified, in response to a tweet from one of his followers, that he believed states should be reopening slowly. 

‘Yes, reopen with care & appropriate protection, but don’t everyone under de facto house arrest,’ he tweeted. 

Musk had earlier hit out at Silicon Valley, saying it had become ‘Sanctimonious Valley’ and ‘too much the moral arbiter of the world’.

Stay-at-home orders issued by governors across the US and subsequent decisions to slowly reopen state economies have turned into highly charged political issues in recent weeks as the shutdowns have hammered the nation’s economy.

People in various states across the country have been protesting against lockdown restrictions.  

Musk, early on in the outbreak in March, said the panic surrounding coronavirus was ‘dumb’.

‘My frank opinion is that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself,’ he wrote in a letter to employees in mid-March.   

He told employees that they could work from home if they felt more comfortable but that he would continue going to work.  

‘I’d like to be super clear that if you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work,’ Musk said.

‘I will personally be at work, but that’s just me. Totally ok if you want to stay home for any reason.’ Musk also tweeted a link to a local news story about Texas lifting some restrictions this week, saying: 'Bravo Texas'

Musk also tweeted a link to a local news story about Texas lifting some restrictions this week, saying: ‘Bravo Texas’.Alongside a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed about whether lockdowns are saving lives, Musk tweeted: 'Give people their freedom back!'

Alongside a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed about whether lockdowns are saving lives, Musk tweeted: ‘Give people their freedom back!’

Musk had earlier hit out at Silicon Valley, saying it had become 'Sanctimonious Valley' and 'too much the moral arbiter of the world'

Musk had earlier hit out at Silicon Valley, saying it had become ‘Sanctimonious Valley’ and ‘too much the moral arbiter of the world’

Meanwhile, shares of Tesla surged 10 percent at the beginning of the week ahead of the release of the company’s quarterly earning report on Wednesday. 

A stock slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to Tesla having to close its factory near San Francisco at the end of March and furlough workers. 

The company originally said it would resume operations on May 4, but Bay Area health officials on Monday extended shelter-in-place orders to the end of May.  

This week’s stock rally put Tesla’s market capitalization at $145 billion. Importantly for Musk, its stock market value reached a six-month average of $96 billion.

Hitting a six-month average of $100 billion would trigger the vesting of the first of 12 tranches of options granted to Musk to buy Tesla stock as part of his two-year-old pay package. 

Each tranche gives Musk the option to buy 1.69 million Tesla shares at $350.02 each. Taking Monday’s Tesla closing stock price of $798.75 as an example, Musk could sell those shares for a profit of $758 million.

Musk does not receive a salary or cash bonus – only options that vest based on Tesla’s market cap and milestones for revenue and profit growth.  

Musk has already hit a growth target necessary for the first options to vest.

A full payoff for Musk, who is also the majority owner and CEO of the SpaceX rocket maker, would surpass anything previously granted to U.S. executives.

When Tesla unveiled Musk’s package in 2018, it said he could theoretically reap as much as $55.8 billion if no new shares were issued.

However, Tesla has since issued shares to compensate employees, and last year it sold $2.7 billion in shares and convertible bonds. 

Many institutional analysts expect Tesla to have a compound annual growth rate of around 20%.

Analysts on average expect March quarter revenue to jump 30% to $5.9 billion, according to Refinitiv, down from an initial February estimate of $6.7 billion.

Tesla in early April reported strong vehicle deliveries in the first three months of 2020 – a time when other U.S. carmakers grappled with a slump in sales as virus woes and lockdown restrictions began taking hold.

The company in mid-February raised $2 billion in a stock offering, and investors on Wednesday will probe whether that covers the company’s cash burn at a time when Tesla ramps up production of its new Model Y sport utility vehicle.  

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