Tesla's huge market cap bolstered by 'Bitcoin Whale' status

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Financial technology and the automotive industry should share more than a strand of similarity, yet there is a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon between them.

Both are consumer-facing businesses which provide vital products to a worldwide audience consisting of pretty much every adult human being, and both require continued upgrades to ensure that each product outperforms its rivals and keeps its customers loyal.

Recently, in the automotive business, this has been achieved by technological advancements whereas perhaps 20 years ago, it would have been a case of brand characteristics and perceived engineering quality.

The move toward modern cars being highly sophisticated from a technology perspective began around the same time as Tesla took the world by storm with its range of electric cars, which suddenly made cars an extension of the 'big tech' world that dominates the global stock market and largely consists of Californian internet giants such as Facebook and Amazon.

Perhaps it is a natural progression that Tesla, a once small start-up which came out of nowhere and propelled its owner and CEO Elon Musk into his current status as the richest man in the world, should be involved with cryptocurrency and financial technology to the extent that it now is.

Elon Musk is well known as a cryptocurrency influencer in his own right, however he has brought Tesla, a publicly traded company with a market cap of almost $1 trillion - ten times that of most motor manufacturers that are ten times the size of Tesla, into the world of cryptocurrency investment.

Tesla itself is what is known as a 'Bitcoin whale', that being an entity which holds a large enough amount of Bitcoin at a single wallet address that it can influence price fluctuations.

It was revealed this week that by the end of 2021, Tesla as a corporate entity held $1.99 billion worth of Bitcoin, having purchased a total of $1.5 billion of Bitcoin during the course of last year.

In the normal course, publicly reporting companies such as Tesla with a very high status in the global stock markets as one of the most traded stocks in the world would not engage in risky business such as Bitcoin investment at very high values, as shareholders with a conservative approach to risk may disapprove, and even if they did not disapprove, a rapid downturn in Bitcoin values would have an impact on Tesla stock to enough of an extent to cause shareholders to take action, or  for the stock exchange which lists its shares to step in.

However, for Tesla, things have been remarkably stable. The announcement yesterday that the company had been holding almost $2 billion in Bitcoin did not cause any negative sentiment among traders, and Tesla stock rose during yesterday's New York trading session by 1.62% despite Bitcoin's dive in value during the course of the exact same trading day.

Elon Musk has been responsible for creating a 'market' during the course of last year, his notorious tweet in the late Spring having crashed the cryptocurrency market by almost $1 trillion, which was followed soon afterwards by another tweet which brought the prices back up again.

Perhaps the market understands that Elon Musk is such a force of influence within the Bitcoin world that his company's association with cryptocurrency is viewed as somehow avantgarde and as disruptive to the traditional corporate structure as his cars were to the traditional automotive industry.

Either way, Tesla is pretty much standing alone as the only large-cap, publicly listed entity that is a 'Bitcoin whale', whilst keeping its status as a blue chip stock on one of New York's most prestigious exchanges.

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