MicroStrategy execs and directors sell tens of millions of dollars in stock
MicroStrategy Inc. President and Chief Financial Officer Phong Le has netted about $12 million in stock sales in recent weeks, as the business intelligence firm’s stock has benefited from its purchases of Bitcoin.
The sales come after Le exercised options he has earned over the years to purchase about 20,000 shares at around $189.16 a share and then sell them for a range around $800 a pop, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Le also netted about $9.1 million in stock sales in late November and early December, according to SEC filings, which was the first time he has sold shares in the company since joining in 2015. Le previously served in different roles at the company, including senior executive vice president and chief operating officer.
The Tysons company has, since August, purchased about $2.211 billion in bitcoins, which amounts to 91,326 bitcoins at about $24,214 each, according to recent SEC filings. The vast majority of those bitcoins were paid for with funds raised in successive debt offerings, part of founder and CEO Michael Saylor’s bid to shift away from what he considers a devalued U.S. currency.
The move has put a spotlight on MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR), with Saylor being featured in Time, Bloomberg, CNBC and across the cryptocurrency news ecosystem. He had even tweeted at Tesla Inc. CEO and founder Elon Musk urging him to convert large amounts of that company’s cash into Bitcoin — which it later did, buying $1.5 billion itself. Google Trends shows searches for MicroStrategy are at the highest they have been since 2017.
And the company’s stock has risen alongside that higher profile — and a rapid increase in the value of Bitcoin itself, propelling the stock from $135 per share at the time of its first Bitcoin purchase to $1,272 on Feb. 9, although it has since fallen to around $756 on Monday afternoon.
Le is not the only person at the company to net millions of dollars through recent stock sales. Board member Carl Rickertsen, managing partner of private equity firm Pine Creek Partners, netted about $26.7 million and board member Stephen Graham, president of CrossHill Financial Group, has netted more than $5.7 million by exercising various stock options, according to SEC filings.
Wei-Ming Shao, senior executive vice president and general counsel, netted $5.7 million after exercising options in the company. Saylor himself has not sold any shares in years, according to a review of SEC records dating back to 2014.
But not everyone has been on board with MicroStrategy’s cryptocurrency spree. Marc Lichtenfeld, chief income strategist at The Oxford Group, said it was “irresponsible” and a gamble that might not pay off if the value plummets.
Meanwhile, revenue was down at MicroStrategy in 2020 to $480 million, compared to $486 million in 2019. Revenue has fallen each year since at least 2016, according to SEC filings. The company also swung to a loss of $7.5 million in 2020, compared to a $34.3 million profit in 2019.