- Elon Musk dismissed Warren Buffett’s job as incredibly boring, and said he doesn’t want it.
- Yet the Tesla and SpaceX CEO praised Buffett’s investing skills and touted the value of his work.
- Musk and Buffett have butted heads before, but appear to respect each other.
Elon Musk dismissed Warren Buffett’s job as extremely dull and said he wouldn’t want to do it. Yet he also complimented the investor’s knack for capital allocation, and defended the Berkshire Hathaway CEO’s roughly $100 billion fortune.
Berkshire owns scores of businesses including See’s Candies and Geico, and holds multibillion-dollar stakes in Apple, Coca-Cola, and other public companies. Buffett spends his days allocating money within the conglomerate, and identifying undervalued stocks to add to Berkshire’s roughly $300 billion stock portfolio.
“Does anybody want that job?” Musk asked. “I think most people do not. I don’t want that job.”
“But he’s not engaged in insane, conspicuous consumption,” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO continued. “So you have to say, ‘Sure, he’s got a high net worth, but he’s doing a useful job for the economy, and he’s very skilled at it and should probably keep doing it.”
Musk, Buffett, and several other billionaires were named and shamed in a ProPublica investigation earlier this year, which accused them of paying virtually no federal income tax in recent years. The exposé has fueled calls from Democratic politicians for a “billionaire tax” that would target the ultra-wealthy’s fortunes, especially those invested in stocks that currently aren’t taxed until they’re sold.
Buffett defended himself by noting that he’s pledged to give over 99% of his net worth to philanthropic causes, and that he’s already donated about half of his nearly 475,000 Berkshire “A” shares since 2006. Meanwhile, Musk has loudly criticized the politicians pushing for higher taxes on the ultra-wealthy, accusing them of trying to take control of private individuals’ assets.
Musk has expressed his ambivalence towards Buffett in past interviews, but this appears to be the first time he’s applauded the investor’s abilities, or acknowledged the value of his work. The Berkshire boss has praised Musk’s accomplishments before, but has also called out the Tesla chief’s controversial tweets.
Buffett and Musk’s most public clash was over the investor’s concept of competitive “moats” around companies, which the Tesla chief dismissed as “lame” in 2018.
“Elon may turn things upside down in some areas,” Buffett responded when he was asked about the comment. “I don’t think he’d want to take us on in candy.”
“I’m starting a candy company and it’s going to be amazing,” Musk jokingly tweeted in response.