Musk Told Gates To Get Lost On Climate Change Philanthropy Due To Massive Tesla Short
Elon Musk took a poke at fellow billionaire Bill Gates on Twitter, saying the Microsoft founder is "short" on Musk's Tesla stock. The poke came in response to a tweet that seemed to show a text exchange between Musk and Gates.
Elon Musk and Bill Gates take different approaches with their philanthropy. Gates has been very vocal about investing in technology and research to combat climate change, among other things. But when it comes to investing immense wealth into Musk's Tesla company, Gates seems to be coming up "short".
Shorting a stock, also known as "short selling", is popular among experienced investors. It is when an investor effectively bets a particular stock is going to decrease in value and they plan to take advantage of the decrease when it does. So, when Musk accuses Gates of shorting Tesla stock, he is saying Gates is effectively betting against the company.
Gates stated in an interview last year with CNBC, "We need more Elon Musks'." However, in the same interview when Gates was asked to clarify if he was short on Tesla stock, the billionaire stated, "I don't talk about my investments, but I think he should be very proud of what he's done."
In the text exchange that Whole Mars Catalog posted on Twitter, Gates says that he wanted to discuss philanthropy opportunities with Musk. Musk responded by asking if Bill still has a half-billion short when it came to Tesla stock, which Gates responded that he was sorry he still had not "closed it out". The Tesla CEO came back with a response that essentially said he could not take talking philanthropy seriously with Gates if he did not take Tesla seriously as a philanthropic endeavor.
Musk replied to a follow-up tweet from Whole Mars Catalog asking if the text exchange was true, "Yeah, but I didn't leak it to NYT. They must have got it through friends of friends."
Regarding Musk's thoughts on how he should go about donating his vast wealth, the tech entrepreneur is not shy. In late October of last year, the tech billionaire responded to a tweet by Dr. Eli David that Musk's wealth could solve world hunger. Musk's response countered the claim with a challenge, "If WFP (World Food Programme) can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it."
Elon Musk does have a foundation he founded in 2002 that is set up to donate part of his wealth. The website for the Musk Foundation is quite simple, comprising only 33 words on a plain-text Yahoo page with no links, company information, or contact information. Up until 2016 Musk donated little money to the foundation relative to his wealth. Then in 2016, he donated $250 million in Tesla stock to the foundation. Of that money, it is reported that as of mid-2018 only about $25 million had gone directly to nonprofit groups, with $10 million of that going to OpenAI, a nonprofit founded by Musk and entrepreneur Sam Altman.
When it comes to the alleged text conversation, no one from the New York Times has confirmed they ever received the exchange between the billionaires. It should be noted that Whole Mars Catalog describes itself on its Twitter home page as "part 24 hour EV news channel / part shi**y stand up comedy routine". The alleged text conversation could have been made up by Whole Mars Catalog as part of a "comedy routine", and Musk simply played into the "joke" with his reply. Until either the NYT confirms they received the conversation, or another source can provide proof of its authenticity, we will all just have to take it with a grain of salt.
Top Image Credit Daniel Oberhaus (2018)