Elon Musk confirms he turned down Bill Gates on climate change collaboration over shorting Tesla

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Elon Musk confirmed Friday that he rejected working with Bill Gates on climate change via text because the Microsoft co-founder was shorting Tesla.

In the texts, the two billionaires appear set to meet somewhere before Musk asks Gates if he still has a “half billion dollar short position against Tesla.”

Gates replies, “Sorry to say I haven’t closed it yet,” adding in another text: “I would like to discuss philanthropy possibilities.” 

Musk replies that he can’t take Gates’ philanthropy on climate change “seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change.”


Elon Musk and Bill Gates have been at odds in the past.  (Getty/AP / Getty Images)

The SpaceX billionaire on Friday night confirmed the veracity of a screenshot of the text exchange posted by @WholeMarsBlog who wrote “No idea if this is true lol” and asked Musk about it. 

“Yeah,” Musk answered, “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.”

CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing

CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing “Cyber Rodeo” grand opening party in Austin, Texas, on April 7, 2022. (Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images) (SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Shorting means that an investor borrows stock with the assumption that it will go down, profiting them. 

Musk also trolled Gates with a vulgar tweet Friday comparing a photo of the Seattleite to a pregnant man emoji. 

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images)

Bill Gates attends the World Leaders’ Summit “Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment” session on day three of COP26 on November 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.  ((Photo by Jeff J Mitchell – Pool/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

It didn’t appear the New York Times had reported on the texts as of early Sunday.


The Tesla CEO didn’t say when the exchange happened and it wasn’t clear where the screenshot originated.

Gates has yet to publicly comment on the texts. 

The two businessmen have been at odds in the past.