How Elon Musk And Bill Gates' Years-Long Feud Really Started

Elon Musk and Bill Gates have a lot in common. They're both tech titans, ludicrously rich, controversial, and have vowed to help save the world with their billions. So, it may surprise some that Musk and Gates are embroiled in a years-long feud. However, when you discover how it started, it's not that shocking.

"Offer me money, offer me power, I don't care," Musk told CNBC. Shady, given how rich Musk is and how much he obviously cares about money — and power. According to Forbes, Musk is worth $264.4 billion. Meanwhile, Gates is worth a paltry $110.8 billion and has vowed to reduce his fortune ASAP. "As I look to the future, I plan to give virtually all of my wealth to the foundation," he tweeted in 2022.

Musk also swore to rid himself of all his worldly possessions, though it's evident he hasn't quite followed through as effectively as Gates. "Don't need the cash. Devoting myself to Mars and Earth. Possessions just weigh you down," Musk tweeted in May 2020. "Does that mean you are selling your TSLA shares?" asked a journalist. Sadly, no. According to Capital, Musk has to be feeling pretty weighed down as he still possesses 412.6 million shares of the car company, valued at $84.89bn. And for somebody who professes not to care about filthy lucre, it's funny that money is at the heart of why Gates And Musk don't get along. Although, no surprise to anybody, surely.

Wallet wars

For somebody who professes not to care about money and power, Elon Musk sure seems to care about money and power. That's a lesson Bill Gates learned when their feud went into overdrive in 2022.

The two started butting heads over the Coronavirus in 2020. "Elon's positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments," Gates told CNBC. "He's not much involved in vaccines. He makes a great electric car. And his rockets work well. So he's allowed to say these things. I hope that he doesn't confuse areas he's not involved in too much." Musk hit back with a tweet: "Billy G is not my lover."

It kicked up a gear after Musk took umbrage at Gates for shorting Tesla stocks, which, in layperson's terms, is a bet that Tesla will lose value. Per The Independent, a testy text exchange between the two was publicly "leaked" in which Musk questioned Gates about his stock stance. "Sorry to say I haven't closed it out," the Microsoft founder confirmed. "Like to discuss philanthropy possibilities," Gates added. "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," Musk shot back. However, his own dedication to environmentalism is disputable. As The Verge notes, Tesla's 2022 impact report showed it had significantly underplayed its carbon footprint — not to mention the Space X launch that resulted in extensive environmental damage.

Beefing up

Elon Musk confirmed he was feuding with Bill Gates over Tesla stocks in a tweet following their "leaked" text exchange. "I heard from multiple people at TED that Gates still had half a billion short against Tesla, which is why I asked him, so it's not exactly top secret," Musk wrote after insisting he wasn't responsible for their text exchange making it to the press. "Yeah, but I didn't leak it to NYT. They must have got it through friends of friends."

It all kicked off again after Gates questioned the wiseness of Musk purchasing the social media platform and expanding his remit of what constitutes free speech."How does he feel about something [on Twitter] that says 'vaccines kill people' or that 'Bill Gates is tracking people?'" the billionaire asked at a Wall Street Journal CEO Summit. "What are his goals for what it ends up being? Does that match this idea of less extreme falsehoods spreading so quickly [and] weird conspiracy theories? Does he share that goal or not?"

Musk clapped back in the best way he knows. "In case you want to lose a boner fast," he captioned a composite pic of Gates in a blue shirt next to a cartoon golden man in a blue shirt holding his pregnant belly. Still, Musk claimed he was over it two days later. "[Moving on] from making fun of Gates for shorting Tesla while claiming to support climate change action," he tweeted.