Elon Musk vs. Bill Gates: Why they’re feuding over the coronavirus

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Elon Musk Bill Gates

Elon Musk Bill Gates

Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

Susan Walsh/AP; Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times


  • Elon Musk and Bill Gates have been feuding over everything from the coronavirus to electric vehicles.
  • The two moguls don’t see eye to eye on electric-car technology. Musk has said Gates doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and Gates has said he bought a Porsche electric car over a Tesla.
  • Most recently, Gates and Musk have feuded over the coronavirus. Gates called Musk’s comments on the outbreak “outrageous,” and Musk recently described Gates as a “knucklehead.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bill Gates and Elon Musk don’t exactly see eye to eye.

While the Microsoft billionaire and the Tesla and SpaceX titan have never had a particularly cozy relationship, things have heated up over the past six months as the two have openly sparred about everything from electric vehicles to the coronavirus.

The two moguls are among the world’s wealthiest, eclipsed only by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. While their public spats may not always be serious, they do appear to fundamentally disagree about the coronavirus — and as major players in virus treatment and an eventual vaccine to protect against it, their clashes carry even more weight.

Here’s where the friction between Gates and Musk began and everything that’s happened since.

Gates doesn’t appear to be a fan of Tesla vehicles, and he’s said as much publicly.

Bill Gates



Elaine Thompson/AP


In February, Gates said during an interview with the YouTuber Marques Brownlee that while Tesla had helped to drive innovation and adoption of electric vehicles, he recently bought a Porsche Taycan.

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that Gates had “no clue” about electric trucks.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, takes part in a panel discussion titled “Investing in African Prosperity” at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California May 1, 2013.

Gus Ruelas/Reuters


In August, Gates wrote a blog post about electric vehicles that questioned whether it was practical to make vehicles like 18-wheelers fully electric.

Though he didn’t mention Tesla, the company does produce a semi.

A few weeks later, a Twitter user asked Musk about his opinion of Gates’ comments, to which Musk replied, “He has no clue.”

Most recently, Musk called Gates a “knucklehead” for criticizing his coronavirus efforts.

Elon Musk



Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images


During a podcast interview published this week, The New York Times’ Kara Swisher asked Musk about his feelings about the virus, including whether he planned to get vaccinated.

Musk defended himself against Gates’ comments, saying he’d spent time with Harvard University epidemiologists “doing antibody studies” and noting Tesla’s work with CureVac.

“Gates said something about me not knowing what I was doing,” Musk told Swisher. “It’s like, ‘Hey, knucklehead, we actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, that company you’re invested in.'”

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