Elon Musk and Bill Gates share many similarities. They’re both prominent figures in the tech industry, incredibly wealthy, controversial and have expressed intentions to use their wealth for global betterment. It might be surprising, then, to learn that Musk and Gates have been entangled in a prolonged feud. Yet, understanding its origin, the situation isn’t all that startling.
“I’m not swayed by offers of money or power,” Musk stated in an interview with CNBC. This statement may seem questionable given Musk’s substantial wealth and evident interest in both money and influence. According to Forbes, Musk’s net worth stands at $264.4 billion, while Gates holds a comparatively modest $110.8 billion, and he has publicly pledged to diminish his fortune swiftly, as he tweeted in 2022: “Looking ahead, I intend to donate the majority of my wealth to the foundation.”
Musk has also made a similar commitment to divest himself of material possessions, though it’s apparent that he hasn’t executed this intention as effectively as Gates. “I don’t need the money. I’m dedicating myself to Mars and Earth. Possessions only weigh you down,” Musk tweeted in May 2020. When a journalist inquired if this meant he was selling his Tesla (TSLA) shares, the answer was unfortunately no. According to Capital, Musk still holds a substantial 412.6 million shares of the company, valued at $84.89 billion. For someone who claims to be indifferent to wealth, it’s ironic that money is at the core of the discord between Gates and Musk. Nonetheless, this revelation likely comes as no surprise to many.
The conflict between Elon Musk and Bill Gates escalated significantly in 2022, revealing a stark contrast between their professed indifference to wealth and power and their actions, which seem to suggest otherwise. This clash originally began in 2020 over their differing views on the Coronavirus. Gates commented on Musk’s propensity for making provocative statements, stating that Musk’s expertise lies more in electric cars and rockets than in vaccines. Musk responded with a tweet, saying, “Billy G is not my lover.”
Tensions escalated when Musk took offense at Gates for shorting Tesla stocks, essentially betting that Tesla’s value would decline. According to The Independent, their testy text exchange was made public, revealing Musk’s inquiry about Gates’ stance on Tesla stocks. Gates confirmed that he hadn’t closed out his position and expressed interest in discussing philanthropic opportunities. Musk, however, was skeptical of Gates’ climate change philanthropy while simultaneously holding a significant short position against Tesla, a company actively working towards climate solutions.
The feud reignited after Gates questioned the wisdom of Musk acquiring a social media platform and expanding his influence over what constitutes free speech. Gates raised concerns about the spread of extreme falsehoods and conspiracy theories, prompting Musk to respond in his characteristic style. Musk shared a humorous image juxtaposing Gates with a cartoon figure, accompanied by a cheeky caption.
Despite the public exchange, Musk later claimed to have moved on from mocking Gates for his stance on Tesla stocks and climate change action.