Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates admitted to electric car maker Elon Musk in a text exchange that he was shorting Tesla stock, whose share price collapsed Tuesday as investors digested the implications of Musk’s $44 million offer to take over Twitter.
Tesla share prices fell as much as 11 percent Tuesday to $890, pushing the stock down more than 28 percent from its all-time high in November 2021 and cutting nearly $25 billion off Musk’s net worth. Tesla’s market cap is at around $913 billion as of this writing, making it the world’s sixth most valuable company by market cap.
In a tweet on Friday, April 22, Musk verified that he had asked Gates if he was short-selling Tesla shares. Short sellers bet on the price of a stock falling.
The Twitter exchange between Gates and Musk was captured in a screenshot by @wholemarsblog, which promotes Tesla and Musk heavily, and is one of the handles that Musk interacts with most on Twitter, according to CNBC.
“Do you still have a half billion dollar short position against Tesla?” Musk tweeted.
Gates replied: “Sorry to say I haven’t closed it out. I would like to discuss philanthropy possibilities.”
Musk shot back, “Sorry, I cannot take your philanthropy on climate change seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change.”
A short position typically means an investor sells a stock they’ve borrowed with the goal of buying it back later at a lower price, essentially betting that the stock’s value will fall.
It is not clear when the text exchange took place between Musk and Gates, but Musk said on Joe Rogan’s podcast in February 2021 that he heard Gates was betting against Tesla, Yahoo News reported.
Musk followed his comments on Friday with a tweet comparing Gates to the pregnant man emoji.
Musk and Twitter reached an agreement Monday for him to take over the company. Musk pledged billions of dollars worth of his Tesla shares as collateral for the $44 billion takeover. If Tesla’s value falls, Musk may have to let go of some of his shares to meet his loan obligations, further eroding his fortune.
The Musk-Gates feud dates back to early 2020 when Gates commented on electric cars. They’ve also disagreed about the coronavirus and colonizing Mars. In February 2020, Gates said in an interview with YouTuber Marques Brownlee that Tesla had helped to drive innovation and adoption of electric vehicles, but Gates said he had bought a Porsche Taycan.
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Gates and Musk have both been involved in funding solutions to fight the coronavirus. Gates pledged $100 million and Musk redirected Tesla resources to make ventilators. Both invested in German biotech firm CureVac for vaccine production.
However, Musk promoted Donald Trump’s favorite malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a covid-19 treatment, falsely claimed that children are immune to the virus, and questioned coronavirus death data.
Photos: Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Sept. 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California (zz/Wil R/STAR MAX/IPx)
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends the Munich Security Conference, Feb. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)