Billionaires Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, and Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, have had a turbulent relationship over the past decade. Although there have been some fleeting moments of public admiration between them, there have been more disagreements and criticisms in the public spotlight.
Their feud has recently intensified following praise for Bill’s gates recent memo, “The Age of AI Has Begun.” Elon Musk quickly took to Twitter, slamming his tech rival, stating: “I remember the early meetings with Gates. His understanding of AI was limited. Still is.”
An instigating jab from Musk is a timeless tale, but where did this antagonism toward his older rival stem? Let’s look back at where the contention between these two tech giants started to understand their fundamental differences and viewpoints.
Gates vs. Musk: Jousting Over Climate Change
The beginning of the rivalry between Gates and Musk began with their different views and approaches to climate change. Gates has become a public frontman for battling climate change and raised and invested billions into startups tackling carbon emissions and climate change.
For years Musk has insisted that Bill Gates has maintained a significant short position against Tesla stock and that Gates shouldn’t be taken seriously as a ‘sustainable investor’ for betting against Musk’s electric car manufacturer, Tesla.
The result of their arguing has resulted in both men proclaiming themselves as the white knight of climate change, with Gates proclaiming, “I give a lot more to climate change than Elon or anyone else.” Meanwhile, Elon refuted, “I cannot take your [Gates] philanthropy on climate change seriously when you have a massive short position against Telsa, the company doing the most to solve climate change.”
Gates vs. Musk: Sparing Over COVID-19 Severity.
In 2020 Gates and Musk’s quarreling continued, with the two disagreeing over the severity of the COVID-19 virus and global pandemic. Both men agreed to fight against the coronavirus. Musk worked on producers to increase ventilators while also working with German biotech firm CureVac on vaccination production assistance. Simultaneously, Gates pledged significant funds to provide aid and fight the pandemic and became a public spokesman for the severity of the pandemic.
After Musk made several inaccurate statements about the virus, stating children are immune to the virus and that the common malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, was a treatment, Gate took the opportunity to reprimand Musk publicly, saying, “I hope that he (Musk) doesn’t confuse areas he’s not involved in too much.” Musk later responded, “Gates said something about me not knowing what I was doing… Hey, knucklehead we actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, that company you’re invested in.”
Gates vs. Musk: Clashing Over Space Travel and Colonization.
Elon Musk has made no secret of his vision for sending a crewed mission to Mars within the next ten years. His company, SpaceX, has become a leader in space transportation and rocket technology, so he’s in a realistic position to pursue his vision.
Space travel is not only a spectacular vision of Elon but also shared by fellow billionaires Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit) and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), who have also become space entrepreneurs.
As Musk has touted his vision of a Mars colony as “Plan B” for the survival of our species, Gates has been critical of such endeavors, labeling them as a waste of money. Gates, however, in rare praise of Musk, has stated that he wouldn’t get against Elon and his ingenuity, but he wished Musk would share his more “pragmatic” version of philanthropy.
Gates vs. Musk: Conflicting Over AI Technology
Gates and Musk have been investing in the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and have been entangled with similar companies since 2015 when Musk cofounded OpenAI with Sam Altman and other tech billionaires. Because Tesla plans to incorporate AI with autonomous driving vehicles, Musk claimed in 2018 he was stepping down from OpenAI’s board to avoid future conflicts of interest.
After Musk left OpenAI in 2018, Gates and Microsoft increased their focus on the AI company, although they had already met with the company overlapping Musk’s time with the company. A year following Musk’s exit, Gates, acting at the time as a board member of Microsoft, directed an investment of $1 billion into the young OpenAI.
Musk has been critical of OpenAI’s trajectory since he left the company in 2018, and seems further perturbed by Microsoft’s investment and influence on the company. Microsoft plans to use a form of OpenAI technology in conjunction with MSN to create a new breed of search engine.
Musk seems increasingly annoyed at OpenAI’s success with their engine ChatGPT which has been immensely popular. He constantly stresses how artificial intelligence is not being adequately secured and regulated. Musk believes that too many players need to be more knowledgeable and careful than he decrees the future of AI is concerning.
As the battle in AI technologies heats up over the next few years with Microsoft and Tesla both investing heavily in future AI uses, expect these two tech titans to continue to clash on their views and influence on the future.
Josh is a financial expert with over 15 years of experience on Wall Street as a senior market strategist and trader. His career has spanned from working on the New York Stock Exchange floor to investment management and portfolio trading at Citibank, Chicago Trading Company, and Flow Traders.
Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business. He has held multiple professional licenses during his career, including FINRA Series 3, 7, 24, 55, Nasdaq OMX, Xetra & Eurex (German), and SIX (Swiss) trading licenses. Josh served as a senior trader and strategist, business partner, and head of futures in his former roles on Wall Street.
Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh currently holds areas of expertise in investing, wealth management, capital markets, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and personal finance.
Josh currently runs a wealth management business and investment firm. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of Top Dollar, where he teaches others how to build 6-figure passive income with smart money strategies that he uses professionally.