The continuing feud between billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates entered a new chapter this week. Gates criticized Musk for utilizing his vast fortune on space travel and not for what he considers more philanthropic causes such as vaccines.
Gates, who is the sixth-richest person on the planet with a net worth of $105 billion, took issue with the fellow billionaire's desire to send people to Mars.
In an interview with the BBC, the 67-year-old Microsoft co-founder was asked if he would encourage Musk to join his "club of mega-philanthropists." The group is a reference to The Giving Pledge – a campaign founded by Gates, his ex-wife Melinda French Gates, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett for "philanthropists to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their will."
"I think some day he'll be a great philanthropist," Gates said of Musk, adding, "Things like Tesla are having a positive impact even without being a form of philanthropy."
BBC broadcaster Amol Rajan asked Gates if space travel to Mars was a wise use of money, and he replied, "Not in my view."
Gates said that there are "definitely" more pressing issues on Earth to focus on.
Gates noted, "It's actually quite expensive to go to Mars."
Instead of space travel, Gates told Musk to focus his vast resources on vaccines.
"You can buy measles vaccines and save lives for a thousand dollars per life saved," Gates said. "It just kind of grounds you. Don’t go to Mars."
Musk, who is the second-wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $184 billion, has yet to respond publicly to the comments made by Gates.
Musk and Gates have not enjoyed the rosiest of relationships dating back to a proposed first meeting years ago.
Several years ago, Gates wanted to meet Musk to discuss "philanthropy possibilities," according to purported text messages between the billionaires. However, Musk found out that Gates was betting against Tesla's stock he and reportedly canceled the meeting at the last minute. Musk seemed to indicate that the text messages unveiled last year were authentic.
Last April, Musk trolled Gates by comparing the Microsoft co-founder with a pregnant man emoji.
During the recent BBC interview, Gates was also asked about being linked to COVID-19 pandemic conspiracy theories.
Gates replied, "I did not expect that. During the pandemic, there were tens of millions of messages that I intentionally caused it, or I'm tracking people. It's true I'm involved with vaccines, but I'm involved with vaccines to save lives."
He added, "These messages sort of inverted that. I guess people are looking for the 'boogeyman' behind the curtain, the over-simplistic explanation. Malevolence is a lot easier to understand than biology."
Last March, Gates said links to him and COVID-19 pandemic conspiracy theories are "tragic."
Gates was also asked about his connection to a convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Gates said, "I'm certainly more careful now than back when I did that. I'll do a little more due diligence. I may make a mistake again. I'm out in the world, and I'm not trying to be a recluse."
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