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Elon Musk appears to ‘make nice’ with Bill Gates following 18-month feud: sources

Is Elon Musk finally trying to make nice with Bill Gates? That may be the hottest speculation coming out of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s AI summit this week.

Tesla’s CEO has aired a bitter beef with Gates over the past year and a half — partly over the billionaire’s massive bet against Tesla shares — but on Wednesday the pair were caught having a private chat ahead of the “AI Insight Forum” on Capitol Hill.

According to folks who were in the room, the chat appeared to be cordial.

One source said Musk made a “beeline to shake Bill Gates’ hand” after arriving nearly 20 minutes early for the panel. Other participants included Mark Zuckerberg, Sam Altman, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.

It’s unclear what the pair discussed, but a source who observed the interaction said it appeared that “Musk’s intent was to resolve” tensions.

It also wasn’t immediately clear why Musk might be taking a new, conciliatory posture toward Gates — although Microsoft might be seen as a possible ally for Musk in a brewing battle over AI against Google.

Musk — who is meanwhile getting roasted over his scorched-earth management of X, formerly known as Twitter, has “overall branding issues and knows it,” one insider said.

Paola Morrongiello

A source said Elon Musk approached Bill Gates at the AI Summit on Sept. 13.
A source said Elon Musk approached Bill Gates at the AI Summit on Sept. 13.
Getty Images

The Tesla billionaire has been in a beef with the Microsoft founder.
The Tesla billionaire has been in a beef with the Microsoft founder.
AFP via Getty Images

“There’s only so many billionaires in America,” the source added. “A small club demands pragmatic members.”

A rep for Gates did not respond to a request for comment. Musk could not be reached for comment.

According to Walter Isaacson’s new book on Elon Musk, the pair have been on bad footing since the first time they met in March 2022. Gates flew to visit Musk at Tesla’s factory in Texas in the hopes of persuading him to join the philanthropic “giving pledge” for billionaires.

Musk declined, adding in a subsequent text message, “I cannot take your philanthropy on climate seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change.”

Gates told Isaacson, “Once he heard I’d shorted the stock, he was super mean to me, but he’s super mean to so many people, so you can’t take it too personally.”

After the initial exchange, Musk repeatedly went after Gates on Twitter – and didn’t pull punches. Last April, Musk tweeted a photo of Gates displaying a paunch protruding under his golf shirt, juxtaposed with the pregnant man emoji.

“in case u need to lose a boner fast,” Musk commented. 

A few months later, Musk tweeted a laughing hysterically emoji in response to a tweet from Bill Gates that suggested using hydrogen energy could solve climate change.

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