In short, Musk doesn’t want money from Gates — because actions, it seems, speak louder than words.
Elon Musk confirmed leaked texts between him and Bill Gates are real.
On April 22, Musk confirmed that leaked text messages between him and Gates are legitimate. The messages reveal that Musk and Gates had a brief and loaded exchange about potential philanthropic donations as well as Tesla stock matters.
It isn't clear how the private text messages surfaced, although it looks to have been snapped from Musk’s phone. Musk said on Twitter, “I didn’t leak it to [The New York Times]. They must have got it through friends of friends.”
Bill Gates has a short position out on Tesla stock.
According to screenshots of the exchange, Musk texted Gates, “Do you still have a half billion dollar short position against Tesla?”
Gates responded, “Sorry to say I haven’t closed it out.” That short-and-sweet response seems to have gotten Musk and his loyal fans in a tizzy, as evidenced by denied philanthropy and a not-so-friendly Gates meme from Musk himself.
A short position is a stock market move that bets on a certain stock decreasing in value. Investors do this by buying a stock, selling it, and repurchasing it later at a lower price. The news of Gates’ short position on Tesla isn't secret, Musk says. “I heard from multiple people at TED that Gates still had half billion short against Tesla, which is why I asked him,” Musk shared on Twitter.
Elon Musk denied a philanthropic donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
After admitting to an open short position in Tesla, Gates added, “I would like to discuss philanthropy possibilities” from his organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Musk’s response was clear. He said, “Sorry, but 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.”
Musk made fun of Gates, but he’s moving on from the jokes (for now).
According to Musk, he’s done making fun of Gates. However, he made sure to get a jab in first. On Twitter, Musk published an image of Gates next to an emoji of a pregnant male, seemingly making fun of his physical figure. Two days later on Apr. 24, Musk said he’s “moving on” from “making fun of Gates for shorting Tesla while claiming to support climate change action.”
As for whether he’s really moving on, that’s yet to be seen. What we do know is that Musk isn't falling for what he views as climate hypocrisy. Tesla vehicles helped drivers avoid 5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2020 alone. However, practices like lithium mining (for use in lithium-ion batteries) push the needle on Tesla’s footprint. Gates may not be a perfect climate protector, but neither is Musk (and frankly, the environmental impact of travel and banking for globe-trotting, big-spending billionaires is an issue that’s unique to the uppermost class).