There is no love lost between Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates. On Musk’s end anyway. He’s known for trolling the computer software genius and climate change activist with tweets like this:
in case u need to lose a boner fast pic.twitter.com/fcHiaXKCJi
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2022
But this time, Musk is more triggered than snarky. A recent text exchange between the two billionaires leaked, and Musk confirmed the authenticity via – you guessed it – Twitter. He accused the computer software magnate of engaging in investment practices that could cause the stock price of the company Musk helms to fall.
Twitter account Whole Mars Catalog, which bills itself as a “part 24/7 EV news channel,” posted screenshots of the exchange, and asked Musk “is this real?”
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
— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) April 22, 2022
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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2022
What does it mean to “short” a stock? Financial news website Investopedia says “short-selling occurs when an investor borrows a security and sells it on the open market, planning to buy it back later for less money.”
This practice isn’t uncommon, but it is unpopular. Shorting a stock is betting against it; profiting off of its downturn. Tesla stock has long been considered to be overvalued. But that didn’t stop those “hedging” their bets against it – and losing a combined $38B in 2020.
Nor did it stop short-sellers from continuing to play the see-saw game with the company’s perceived value. According to Barron’s, David Trainer, the CEO of New Constructs – an independent research firm – still considers the stock to be overvalued:
“Tesla‘s market capitalization recently moved well past $1 trillion, but the independent investment-research firm New Constructs believes the company is overvalued by roughly $1 trillion of that. The firm’s CEO, David Trainer, says Tesla shares could fall as much as 88%, to roughly $150 a share,” Barron’s wrote.
Some could say Elon Musk is being hypocritical. He has been the subject of several SEC investigations related to insider trading and stock manipulation, costing investors hundreds of millions with the posting of a single tweet – enriching himself and family members in the process.
Those familiar with Musk and Gates’ “relationship” know that Musk has had an issue with Gates going back years. In 2017, Musk unveiled a fleet of electric semi-trucks. The rollout has been pushed back to the fall of this year. But, it was a post Gates made in his online blog GatesNotes in August 2020, criticizing the viability and practicality of electric-powered semis, that would draw Musk’s negative attention.
“EVs excel at short-haul travel. That means they’re great options for personal cars and even medium-duty vehicles, like city buses and garbage trucks. But even if we develop cheap, long-range EVs that are powered by zero-carbon sources, electrification isn’t an option for many types of transportation,” Gates wrote.
He also praised car manufacturers like GMC and Ford for making a foray into the electric vehicle market, increasing the options for vehicle buyers, and notably leaving Tesla off the list.
“Increased competition in the market means there are more choices available to customers than ever before, from compact sedans to sleek sports cars. You’ll even be able to buy an all-electric pick-up truck soon thanks to legacy companies like GM and Ford and new carmakers like Rivian and Bollinger,” Gates slighted Musk’s company with the omission.
It was a slight that did not go unnoticed by the forever attention-seeking, Musk, who dismissed Gates’ statements when asked on Twitter in September 2020.
He has no clue
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 12, 2020
But he wasn’t done. On an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Elon Musk was asked about Gate’s comment. Musk chalked it up to Gate’s lack of knowledge about the electric vehicle industry and about the batteries that power them. According to Torque News, this led to Musk telling Rogan:
“I’ve also heard from trusted sources Bill Gates has a short position against Tesla.” Continuing, Musk also added, “if it is true, he has lost a lot of money.”
On an episode of CNBC‘s Squawk Box with host Andrew Ross Sorkin, Gates was given the opportunity to refute Musk’s claims and clear the air, to confirm or deny. He did neither, however. Instead, he credited Musk’s ingenuity and his contribution to combatting the climate crisis with Tesla.
“I think what Elon has done with Tesla is fantastic, it is probably the biggest single contribution to showing us that electric cars are how we solve climate change. And now he has got a carbon removal challenge, so we need more Elon Musk’s,” Gates said.
Known as a private person, Gates isn’t forthcoming when it comes to his private life or his investments, particularly after his messy divorce from his former wife Melinda. Despite a 52-week low of $546.98, Tesla opened Saturday morning at $1015.21. With minor fluctuations, its shares are still a far cry from Trainer’s predicted low price of $150 a share. If Elon Musk’s accusations are true, and Gates does hold half a billion worth of shorted stock – he may want to hold onto those shares a little bit longer.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick