Elon Musk and Bill Gates: A Clash of Titans in the Tesla Shorting Saga

Exploring the Controversial Relationship Between Two Tech Icons and Their Battle Over Tesla's Fate

Gates, a self-labeled philanthropist who states he cares massively about environmental causes, has never had the respect of Musk, the CEO of a company that has singlehandedly made sustainability in passenger transportation relevant.

Yesterday, we reported that in an excerpt of Walter Isaacson’s new biography about Musk, Gates talked about the Tesla CEO’s behavior toward him after he had learned that the former Microsoft frontman had placed a $500 million bet against Tesla, shorting the stock and hoping to profit from its failure. Gates said Musk was “super mean” to him after he had learned about the short position. Last year, a series of leaked text messages showed dialogue between the two, and when Gates asked if Musk would meet with him to discuss potential philanthropy tactics, Musk denied him. “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 replied to Gates. The two never met. Musk seems to have read several reports on the excerpt of the book, which was finally released today and made sure to clarify the issues he has with Gates. One of the major bones he has to pick with him is the fact that he believes Gates still, to this day, has a short position open against Tesla.

Musk said:

“Just so that the public understands: Taking out a short position against Tesla, as Gates did, results in the highest return only if a company goes bankrupt!

He continued, stating that Gates had put the short position on Tesla when the company was at one of its weakest points:

“Gates placed a massive bet on Tesla dying when our company was at one of its weakest moments several years ago. Such a big short position also drives the stock down for everyday investors.”

Musk’s animosity is driven by the fact that Gates aimed to profit off of Tesla’s failure, despite the claims that he cared massively about the well-being of the Earth and aimed to invest in sustainability.

However, Gates could have put this $500 million bet into Tesla and become a major investor. Instead, personal wealth seemed to be more interesting, at least in Musk’s eyes:

“The lack of self-awareness and hypocrisy of Gates, who had the nerve to ask me to donate to his mostly window-dressing environmental causes, while simultaneously aiming to make $500M from Tesla’s demise, boggles the mind…”

There may never be a resolution between Musk and Gates, and it would be understandable coming from Tesla’s standpoint. Tesla defied all the odds, and with the guidance and leadership of Musk, the company was able to pull out of multiple instances of catastrophe and imminent failure and is now the most valuable automaker on the planet.

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