Elon Musk confirmed that leaked texts show him turning down a philanthropic opportunity with Bill Gates after asking the Microsoft founder if he was shorting Tesla.
According to Musk, leaked screenshots of text messages between Elon Musk and Bill Gates are genuine. The texts show Musk declining a philanthropic offer from Gates due to the latter’s Tesla shorting. According to the texts, Musk told Gates, “I cannot take your philanthropy on climate change seriously.”
Elon Musk confirmed on Friday that texts indicating he turned down a philanthropic opportunity with Bill Gates due to the latter’s Tesla short position are genuine.
An account called Whole Mars Catalog shared screenshots of the texts on Twitter, tagging Musk and asking if they were real.
Though the color of the text message boxes suggests they were taken on Musk’s phone, the source of the screenshots was not immediately clear.
The first screenshot appears to show Gates texting Musk to confirm the meeting date and time, to which Musk replied, “Great.” Another screenshot shows a text from Gates that says “just landed,” to which Musk replies, “cool.”
“Do you still have a half billion dollar short position against Tesla?” Musk followed up with a text.
According to the screenshots, Gates responded, “Sorry to say I haven’t closed it out,” and added, “I would like to discuss philanthropy possibilities.”
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“Sorry, but I can’t take your climate change philanthropy seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to address climate change,” Musk responded.
A short position is when an investor sells a stock they’ve borrowed with the intention of repurchasing it at a lower price later, essentially betting on the stock’s value falling.
Elon Musk responded to the screenshots by tweeting that they were genuine but that he had not leaked them, adding that they must have spread “through friends of friends.”
“I heard from multiple people at TED that Gates still had a half billion dollar short against Tesla, which is why I asked him,” Musk continued.
Although the exact date of the text exchange is unknown, Musk stated on Joe Rogan’s podcast in February 2021 that he had heard Gates was betting against Tesla in the stock market.
Musk tweeted a meme of Gates Friday night, comparing the Microsoft founder to the pregnant man emoji and writing, “in case u need to lose a boner fast,” shortly after commenting on the texts.
This isn’t the first time the two men have clashed in public.
Musk and Gates, two of the world’s wealthiest people, have previously openly feuded over issues such as electric vehicles, COVID-19, and colonizing Mars.
“I wonder why Bill Gates chose the Taycan instead of a Tesla,” a Twitter user speculated after Gates revealed in 2020 that he had purchased an all-electric Porsche Taycan.
“My conversations with Gates have been underwhelming [to be honest],” Musk responded in a tweet.
Musk has speculated on the possibility of Gates shorting his company’s stock in the past. “I don’t talk about my investments but I think he should be very proud of what he’s done,” Gates told CNBC last year when asked about those comments and whether he was short Tesla.