Two technology giants, one who built his empire in the software industry, the other a skilled engineer and serial innovator, both are two of the richest men in the world. On paper, it seems like they would be the best of friends, but what’s the reality?
Bill Gates and Elon Musk do not appear to be friends. Although they have been cordial with each other in the past, they have also had heated exchanges over issues that they disagree on.
Elon Musk has been known to be a bit of a firebrand, especially on social media like Twitter, often giving his opinion with both barrels. Whether that opinion is just aimed at the general public, or at one particular individual, he doesn’t hold back.
In the case of Gates, he’s had a few moments where he has aired his disagreements in a tone that might be considered unfriendly.
Going Back to the Beginning
Although they never had too much to say about each other, and their opinions were mostly aligned on big topics, such as climate change, there never appeared to be any warmth between the two either.
When it comes to more complex issues like the loss of jobs to automation, the two even agree there! Both of them have made statements regarding concern over unemployment due to jobs being outsourced to robotic automation.
They did have a little divergence on the subject of artificial intelligence. Perhaps a “a little” is an understatement, seeing as almost all of the prominent tech CEOs disagreed with Musk’s take on the situation.
Musk had been outspoken about the AI issue for a long time, issuing dire warnings to anyone and everyone that wanted to listen about what a future with artificial intelligence was going to look like.
It was bordering on the kind of imagery you’d expect to see in a movie like the Matrix, humans chained up in batteries to be harvested by a robotic ruling class.
Gates and a few other prominent figures in the tech world disagreed, vehemently in some cases. Gates in particular was fairly relaxed in his disagreement, hand-waving the issue with an “everyone should calm down” style of attitude.
Still, everything seemed fairly business as usual between the two. Some differences of opinion, some alternative ideas on how to handle the big issues of the future, even some agreement, and common ground.
So, what happened?
War is Declared
Gates declared war on Musk, by proxy of Porsche. At least that’s how it looked, anyway.
In an interview that involved a segment revolving around the topic of electric vehicles and innovations in that sector, Gates revealed that he bought a Porsche Taycan instead of a Tesla.
He wasn’t being particularly negative towards Musk or his brainchild Tesla, even going as far as to name Tesla as being an instrumental factor in driving the development of more environmentally sound vehicles.
To Gates’ mind, it simply wasn’t quite the right time to buy a Tesla and said as much during his interview. Whether or not his intentions with the comment were innocent, only he knows, but Musk didn’t interpret the interview too charitably.
He took to Twitter, in response to a Tesla fan account expressing worry about the damage that Gates’ comments on battery longevity might do to the public perception of the brand, describing his conversations with Gates as being “underwhelming”.
Still, things had yet to get too out of hand, since he was still rational enough to appreciate the acrobatics of Gates’ ability to jump over a chair.
The Clash Over Corona
If their relationship was already strained by this point, then it finally reached boiling point over the gift that 2020 gave us. Musk had already been outspoken on the issue of COVID-19, seemingly disregarding it completely.
Gates understandably didn’t appreciate this, what with the heavy involvement he had been having in the issue both personally and with his charity foundation. In response to Musk, he made a particularly pointed comment against Musk, implying that Musk would simply “confuse” the area with his lack of knowledge.
Musk understandably fired back, just with a characteristic lack of subtlety. The first tweet wasn’t too bad, an amusing shot back at Gates that simply read “Billy G is not my lover”.
The next comment he made about it probably got him taken off the Christmas card list, calling Gates a “knucklehead”. Hopefully, they’ll find a way to make up!