Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) CEO Trevor Milton is flirting with deca-billionaire status as the share price surges in his newly public battery and fuel cell electric trucking startup.
With Nikola stock appreciating more than 300% since it began trading under its own name last week, Milton's paper wealth has exploded. Based on midday Tuesday trading of $81.68, Milton's 91,602,734 shares were worth $7.48 billion. He works for a salary of $1 a year.
Milton prefers to talk about how Nikola's zero-emission approach to trucking will transform the world. He considers his holdings part of the company though they are owned by him and his M&M Residual LLC.
With 300,000 new individual investors on Monday alone, Milton's point about building trucks with zero emissions may be getting across. Between 30 million and 40 million shares changed hands on Monday. Shares traded between $56.99 and $93.50 on Tuesday.
"There are not that many shares available," Milton told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. "I have a lot and our blue-chip investors have a lot."
Those investors include Black Rock with 15.5% of the shares and other funds that were able to buy shares at a discount before Nikola's reverse merger with VectoIQ, the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that made Nikola public on Thursday.
According to a VectoIQ SEC filing in March, Milton sold 7 million private shares in Nikola for $70 million before the merger.
In November, Milton set a Utah record for a real estate purchase when he paid $32.5 million for Riverbend Ranch, a 2,670-acre property in Oakley. The property includes a 16,800-square-foot, eight-bedroom home built along the contours of the Weber River.
"I feel like my generation is asset-light, wants smaller everything, and is moving to cities, which is the opposite of what I wanted in life," Milton told The Wall Street Journal. "I enjoy the country, space, privacy, and wildlife rather than skylights. ... I wanted to create a sanctuary where I could live off the land."
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