Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed once again why he is on a different level than Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. A new biography out this week detailed the rivalry and how the owner of X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, feels about his counterpart.
Musk recounted that Gates took a short position on EV manufacturer Tesla several years ago when the company was “at one of its weakest moments.”
This meant the Meta CEO stood to make half a billion dollars if the company went bankrupt. The timing of the financial wager could hardly have been more offensive for Musk.
At the same time Gates asked Musk to donate to what the Tesla CEO described as “his mostly window-dressing environmental causes.” This, he said, displayed “a lack of self-awareness and hypocrisy.”
The two tech giants, according to the biography, met at the Texas gigafactory in March 2022 to discuss philanthropy. At that time, Musk expressed his anger over Gates’ losing $1.5 billion taking a position against his EV company.
Elon Musk says someone should ask Bill Gates which Carribean island is his favorite.
Which one do you think it is? pic.twitter.com/MMXGnWKUIX
— TaraBull (@TaraBull808) September 12, 2023
According to Fortune.com, Gates apologized to Musk for the miscalculation. That apology, however, did not go nearly far enough to soothe the hard feelings.
Gates told biographer Walter Isaacson that Musk was “super mean” to him.
The next month, Musk confirmed that he had refused the philanthropic overtures from Gates over the stock transaction.
In a text exchange, Musk asked Gates if he still held the massive short position against Tesla — essentially a financial bet that the company would fail. Gates responded that he had not closed it yet but would rather discuss philanthropy.
Musk replied that he could not take the environmental cause being pitched seriously “when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change.”
The Tesla CEO told Isaacson he was perplexed that a so-called environmental activist would bet against an EV company responsible for so much progress against climate change. “Why make money on the failure of a sustainable energy car company?”
Musk shut the conversation down. In a message to Isaacson, he revealed his impression of Gates. “At this point, I am convinced that he is categorically insane.” Musk added an expletive for emphasis in his description of the Meta CEO.