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The reasons why Bill Gates and Elon Musk are not friends

The two tycoons have clashed over approaches to the covid pandemic, the effectiveness of vaccines, death tolls, the space race, electric vehicles...

gates musk

Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest people in the world, founder of Microsoft, and for years known for his philanthropic efforts. Elon Musk, officially the richest person on the planet - at least according to Forbes at the time of writing - founder of Tesla and SpaceX, eyeing up social media investment, and one of the loosest tongues amongst his peers.

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Both have agreed on the future of electric cars, on their usefulness, versatility and necessity, although when Gates bought himself one, he did not purchase one of those from his tech rival’s brand (he instead went for Porsche). This was something that Musk criticised publicly, saying that he felt “disappointed”. One of the many times they have clashed over their approaches, decisions and comments.

Musk pokes Gates on Twitter 👇🏼

Gates vs Musk: attitudes during covid pandemic

Bill Gates had been warning the world for years, especially in forums with political leaders, about a possible disease, a biological virus, that would affect us all, given globalisation and the lack of health measures across the world. In fact, he has been at the forefront of a search for global health solutions.

Due to this focus, Gates has also been very active since the outbreak of the covid-19 crisis, helping out financially, supporting the messages from international bodies, and being vocal about the evolution of the pandemic.

Elon Musk’s approach has contrasted somewhat, although both men have donated large sums of money, contributions to the fight against the covid-19 pandemic. Gates pledged $100 million through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while Musk diverted Tesla’s resources to procure and produce fans.

But following the outbreak of the pandemic, Musk has trivialised the severity of the virus and opposed social isolation initiatives. In addition, he questioned data on covid-19-related deaths in 2020, and also endorsed the unproven malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus.

Gates commented about Musk: “He’s not really involved in vaccines. He makes a great electric vehicle. And his rockets work well. So he’s allowed to say these things.”

Musk’s response, of course on Twitter, was to “deny that they were lovers”, or to say that Gates was “an airhead”. Another ‘scuffle’ came when Gates discussed the advantages of owning an electric truck, without naming Tesla, and the founder’s response was “you have no idea”.

Did Gates short Musk’s Tesla?

On Friday, the latest spat occurred, as Musk accused Gates of shorting the value of Tesla’s stock. Musk said that he had texts that show he turned down a philanthropic opportunity over Gates’ short position on Tesla.

These texts were shared on Twitter as screenshots by an account called Whole Mars Catalog, who asked Musk for verification that they were true, the colour suggesting they were taking from his device.

The first image appears to show a text from the MS founder confirming a when the two would meet. Musk responds “Great.”

Another screenshot then displays a text, supposedly from Gates, which says “just landed” to which Musk responds “cool.”

“Do you still have a half billion dollar short position against Tesla?” Musk asks.

“Sorry to say I haven’t closed it out,” is the reply. “I would like to discuss philanthropy possibilities.”

But Musk wasn’t keen. “Sorry, but I cannot take your philanthropy on climate change seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change.”

Investing in bitcoin

One more topical issue has led to differences of opinion. Gates doesn’t trust cryptocurrencies, and is wary of the fact that a comment from Elon Musk will make or break their value.

“If you have less money than Elon, you should probably be careful,” he said.

Don’t expect this conflict of words and extreme wealth to disappear anytime soon.


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