By Micah Maidenberg 

Elon Musk talks about a lot of things on Twitter, but it was a series of seemingly random tweets about bitcoin in December that hinted at the news Monday about Tesla Inc.'s investment in the cryptocurrency.

Among other bitcoin-related tweets on Dec. 20, the Tesla chief executive used his Twitter account to post an explicit meme showing what appears to be a bearded monk with the words "Me trying to live a normal productive life" pasted over him. The monk is standing near a woman with the word bitcoin pasted over her.

That graphic elicited a response from Michael Saylor, founder and chief executive of MicroStrategy Inc., a publicly traded enterprise-software company that has invested in bitcoin and made it the company's reserve asset.

"If you want to do your shareholders a $100 billion favor, convert the [Tesla] balance sheet from [U.S. dollars to bitcoin]. Other firms on the S&P 500 would follow your lead & in time it would grow to become a $1 trillion favor," Mr. Saylor said in a tweet.

"Are such large transactions even possible?" Mr. Musk said in response to him. Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Monday, Tesla said it bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin and plans to start accepting the digital currency as payment for its products soon.

Mr. Saylor said in a tweet Monday, "Congratulations & thank you to @elonmusk & @Tesla on adding #Bitcoin to their balance sheet. The entire world will benefit from this leadership." A spokesman for MicroStrategy confirmed Mr. Saylor's Twitter account.

Close watchers of Mr. Musk's musings on Twitter, where he has of late discussed space projects, Tesla vehicles, videogames and other topics, may not have been surprised by the Silicon Valley car company's decision to buy bitcoin. In January, Mr. Musk changed his Twitter biography to read, "#bitcoin." His biography no longer references it.

Mr. Musk "has a tendency to hint at future developments at Tesla through his Twitter account [and] recent commentary there has been geared to bitcoin and other digital currencies," a Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst said Monday.

Mr. Musk had other things to say about the cryptocurrency on Dec. 20, beginning with the comment, "Bitcoin is my safe word." He then added, "Just kidding, who needs a safe word anyway."

To a user who responded to his first tweet by predicting bitcoin would crash and also would reach $50,000 each in the five years, Mr. Musk said, "Sounds about right."

Later, he said, "Bitcoin is almost as bs as fiat money." Fiat currency is money issued by a central authority, such as a country's central bank, but isn't linked to an underlying commodity like gold, according to a definition from a unit of the World Bank.

On Monday, Mr. Musk again discussed bitcoin further. He communicated with another Twitter user about the Dogecoin cryptocurrency and referenced bitcoin's "BTC" symbol: "Doge appears to be inflationary, but is not meaningfully so (fixed # of coins per unit time), whereas BTC is arguably deflationary to a fault. Transaction speed of Doge should ideally be a few orders of magnitude faster."

He also said Monday that he was ready to move on to other topics: "Back to work I go ..."

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 08, 2021 17:06 ET (22:06 GMT)

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