Elon Musk and Bill Gates don't seem to agree on climate change, the pandemic, or space travel.
They've made public jabs at each other for years in interviews and on social media.
Gates said Musk "was super mean to me" after he took issue with the Microsoft founder shorting Tesla stock.
Bill Gates and Elon Musk haven't always exactly seen eye-to-eye.
While the Microsoft billionaire and the Tesla titan have never appeared to have a particularly cozy relationship, things have heated up over the past few years as the two have openly sparred about topics as varied as electric vehicles and the pandemic.
The two moguls are among the world's wealthiest people, with Musk at No. 1 and Gates at No. 5, according to Bloomberg data as of early September.
While their public spats may not always be serious, they do appear to fundamentally disagree on how to fight disease; how to address climate change; on whether cryptocurrency is legitimate; and on the importance of space travel.
In fact, new details from Walter Isaacson's forthcoming biography on Musk suggest that their relationship behind closed doors may've been more tense than we would've thought.
Here's where the friction between Gates and Musk began and everything that's happened since.
Things first became tense between Bill Gates and Elon Musk in 2020.
At the time, they were both involved in fighting the coronavirus — Gates pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the virus, while Musk was working to source and produce ventilators.
But Musk was also frequently downplaying the severity of the virus and strongly criticizing stay-at-home orders.
He'd promoted the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, falsely said that children are immune to the virus, and suggested that coronavirus-deaths data are "misleading."
Gates took issue with Musk's behavior regarding the virus.
"Elon's positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments ... I hope that he doesn't confuse areas he's not involved in too much," Gates said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" in 2020.
The comments struck a nerve with Musk, who taunted Gates on Twitter.
Musk jokingly posted multiple tweets about Gates, writing "Billy G is not my lover" and "The rumor that Bill Gates & I are lovers is completely untrue."
In fact, Musk defended his role in the coronavirus relief efforts.
"Gates said something about me not knowing what I was doing," Musk told The New York Times during a podcast interview in September 2020. "It's like, 'Hey, knucklehead, we actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, that company you're invested in.'"
But another major source of tension between Gates and Musk appears to be climate change — specifically, how big of an impact Tesla has in reducing emissions and helping the planet.
During a 2020 interview with the YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Gates said that while Tesla had helped to drive innovation and adoption of electric vehicles, he'd purchased different electric car, a Porsche Taycan.
Gates' comments didn't seem to have bothered Musk.
At the time, Musk tweeted that his conversations with Gates had always been "underwhelming."
Musk also took issue with a blog post Gates wrote that questioned whether it was practical to make vehicles like 18-wheelers fully electric.
Gates has issued Musk a few rare compliments over the years.
During a podcast interview in 2021, Gates said that what Musk has accomplished with Tesla is "one of the greatest contributions to climate change anyone's ever made" and said that "underestimating Elon is not a good idea."
But Gates has also touted his own climate contributions over Musk's.
"I give a lot more to climate change than Elon or anyone else," Gates said during a June 2022 interview with French YouTuber Hugo Décrypte. "I give a lot of philanthropic dollars, I back companies — you know, electric cars are about 16% of emissions, so we also need to solve that other 84%."
Musk had a one-word response to the interview on Twitter.
"Sigh," he tweeted.
While space exploration — specifically, colonizing Mars — is a main focus of Musk's, Gates isn't impressed.
During an interview on a New York Times podcast in early 2021, Gates said that while he may be missing something about space travel and Musk's SpaceX, he's "not a Mars person ... I don't think rockets are the solution." He added that he'd rather spend his money on vaccines here on Earth than on space travel.
Gates has also taken issue with the mania surrounding cryptocurrencies, which Musk has helped fuel online.
The Microsoft billionaire noted how much energy bitcoin uses, making it not very environmentally friendly, and warned investors not to dump money into bitcoin like Tesla has.
"My general thought would be that if you have less money than Elon, you should probably watch out," he said.
Though Musk recently said he's "moving on" from making fun of Gates, he's done his fair share of mocking the Microsoft founder over the years.
That same month, he mocked Gates' weight online.
Musk has also publicly taken issue with Gates over what he says is Gates' multimillion-dollar short position against Tesla.
Tesla short-sellers have been a frequent target of Musk's over the years, to the point where he's argued that the practice should be illegal.
In a leaked text-message exchange between the two billionaires, which Musk said is legitimate, Gates seems to confirm that he's betting against Tesla.
"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.
—Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) April 22, 2022
Gates said he'd but says he'd still like to work on a climate-focused philanthropic opportunity together.
After the text exchange, Gates told Walter Isaacson, the author of the forthcoming biography of Musk, that he apologized to Musk.
"Once he heard I'd shorted the stock, he was super mean to me, but he's super mean to so many people, so you can't take it too personally," Gates told Isaacson.
During a 2022 interview with YouTuber Hugo Décrypte, Gates seemed to imply that the issue is Musk's, not his.
When asked whether they're friends, Gates replied, "I like him. I think he does great work. I don't know him very well."
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