Elon Musk and Bill Gates argue over climate change and money

It seems that two of the wealthiest humans on the planet have had a little back-and-forth over the best way to spend their millions.

Of course we’re talking about Bill Gates (worth about £103 billion) and Elon Musk (worth about £207 billion) responsible for Microsoft and SpaceX/Tesla respectively.

Although Bill was the original tech billionaire and wealthiest man in the world, he’s since transitioned into philanthropy with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Over the weekend, he got into a text conversation with Elon and enquired whether he would be interested in philanthropy around climate change.

Elon had seemingly started out asking whether or not Bill still had a half-a-billion dollar short option on Tesla – effectively meaning that he makes money if Tesla fails.

Bill responded that, well, yes he does as he ‘hasn’t closed it out yet’ but would like to discuss ‘philanthropy possibilities’.

To which Elon, rather bluntly, said he wasn’t interested if Gates kept his ‘massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to stop climate change.’

So apparently Bill Gates hit up @elonmusk to discuss “philanthropy on climate change” but Elon asked if he still had a half billion dollar short position on $TSLA.

Bill said he hasn’t closed it out, so Elon told him to get lost. No idea if this is true lol pic.twitter.com/iuHkDG3bAd

At first, it wasn’t clear if the text exchange was genuine, but then Musk piped up on Twitter to confirm that it was legit – but he wasn’t the one to leak it.

Yeah, but I didn’t leak it to NYT. They must have got it through friends of friends.

I heard from multiple people at TED that Gates still had half billion short against Tesla, which is why I asked him, so it’s not exactly top secret.

Are the texts genuine or is Musk simply having a bit of a joke around? We may never really know for certain. But it may be an interesting look at what two people with more combined wealth than most countries choose to text each other about.

What we can take from this is – if accurate – Bill Gates doesn’t use an iPhone because he’s got the green bubble.

(from making fun of Gates for shorting Tesla while claiming to support climate change action)

Last year, Gates said in his book about climate change that, after years of dismissing activists’ calls to divest from fossil fuels, he sold his direct holdings in oil and gas companies in 2019. The Gates Foundation’s endowment did the same – but not because Gates became convinced that divestment would push companies toward clean energy.

Rather, ‘I don’t want to profit if their stock prices go up because we don’t develop zero-carbon alternatives,’ he writes. ‘I’d feel bad if I benefited from a delay in getting to zero.’

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