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Elon Musk Reveals Why He's Mad at Bill Gates

TheStreet logo TheStreet 3/28/2023 Luc Olinga
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The relationship between the two billionaires, who are both environmental activists, has been strained for a year.

They have both been the richest men in the world. 

One held this title for many years. The other had this title recently but lost it.

The first is Bill Gates, co-founder of software giant Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Free Report. The second is Elon Musk, CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report

Even though they have both lost the honorary title of the richest man in the world, Gates and Musk nevertheless remain in the forefront of the largest fortunes on the planet. Musk is currently the second richest man with a net worth valued at $177 billion as of Mar. 27 according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, while Gates is the fourth richest man. He is worth $116 billion. 

The two men had a cordial relationship for a long time. But for a year it is a feud between them. They clash through the media and via social networks. Musk didn't even hesitate to use a cruel meme against Gates, who had become an enemy.

Gates Targeted by Fossil Fuel Fans 

Musk and Gates share the same concerns over the environment and the determination to reduce polluting emissions.

Gates, who no longer has executive functions at Microsoft, has become a philanthropist and thus leads many causes for the planet via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The Foundation is at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Gates is personally an environmental activist, who travels the world to promote initiatives to reduce polluting emissions. 

In speeches, symposiums and forums, the billionaire does not miss an opportunity to talk about climate and plead with everyone to protect the environment.

At the same time, the activism of Gates is not well received by everyone. Proponents of fossil fuels and conservatives reject his agenda. In recent years their criticisms have become more personal. They tend to call Gates a hypocrite and say he has no standing to fight for the environment because the billionaire travels on a private jet.

This criticism follows him wherever he talks about climate. Gates is a favorite and perennial target of many social media conspiracy theorists. Grow America's Infrastructure Now (GAIN), which presents itself as a coalition of businesses, trade associations and labor groups that share a vested interest in creating jobs and strengthening the U.S. economy through infrastructure development, has just posted a message denouncing the environmental activism of the billionaire.

"Bill Gates says we need to change the way we do 'almost everything' to fight climate change," GAIN said. "So why won't he stop flying private jets? Check out our latest video⬇️ #BeyondHypocrisy"

Musk took advantage of this virulent criticism against his peer to remind people that there are tensions between them and indicated the real reason for this enmity.

For Musk, if Gates wants to prove that he is not a hypocrite when it comes to climate change, he should stop betting against Tesla.

"Not having a massive short position against Tesla would be a step in the right direction!" Musk said in commentary to the Gain's tweet.


Selling stock short is a bet that the stock's price will drop. Gates had a $500 million short position against Tesla as of last May. It is unclear whether the philanthropist still holds this position. 2022 has been a great year for investors who shorted Tesla, as the electric vehicle maker lost more than $600 billion in market capitalization. The market value has rebounded strongly in 2023.

Gates didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

But last year, the billionaire had already brushed off criticism that betting against Tesla was tantamount to disqualifying his environmental credentials.

"I don't think that whether one's short or long Tesla is a statement about your seriousness about climate change," the billionaire said during The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit on May 4. "I'm putting billions of dollars into climate-change innovation, I applaud Tesla's role in helping with climate change."

"The popularity of electric cars will lead to more competition for selling those cars. So there's a difference between electric cars being adopted, and companies becoming infinitely valuable," Gates said.

But for Musk, Tesla is at the forefront in the fight against global warming. The automaker has managed to force the auto industry to gradually give up gasoline cars and to develop electric vehicles, and should therefore be encouraged by environmentalists on all sides, says the serial entrepreneur who promises a sustainable energy economy in the future.


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