Elon Musk Dismisses Warren Buffett's 'Kindly Grandfather' Image As Overrated

Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk has never been one to hold back his opinions, even when it comes to legendary investor and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. founder Warren Buffett. 

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In a candid 2020 interview with The New York Times, Musk didn’t mince words when he discussed Buffett’s image. “He has managed to create a great image for himself as a kindly grandfather, which is maybe overstating the case,” Musk said. 

Of course, Buffett is known for his folksy charm, humble lifestyle and long-term investment approach, which has made him a beloved figure among many investors. His philanthropic efforts have made him one of the most generous donors in history. But to Musk, the 92-year-old Oracle of Omaha might be a bit overrated.

Despite his grandfatherly demeanor, Buffett is no pushover in the business world. He’s made his fortune by being a savvy and sometimes ruthless investor. During the financial crisis, he lent money to struggling companies like Goldman Sachs and General Electric Co. at interest rates that some critics deemed “usurious.” 

It wasn’t the first time Musk criticized Buffett. In 2018, Musk dismissed Buffett’s famous idea of economic moats as “lame.” The comment caused a huge stir in the business world. After all, Buffett is known for investing in companies with strong competitive advantages that help keep rivals at bay. These advantages are often referred to as “economic moats.” Buffett obviously doesn’t think moats are lame because he has made a fortune from them.

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Musk also said that allocating capital among Berkshire Hathaway’s various businesses seemed like a “kind of a boring job” and admitted he wasn’t Buffett's "biggest fan." 

Despite their past verbal sparring, it appears that Musk and Buffett may be burying the hatchet. At the recent Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, Buffett had nothing but praise for Musk, calling him a “brilliant guy” with a strong vision for the future. “He dreams about things, and his dreams have got a foundation,” Buffett said.

Musk responded to Buffett’s kind words with a gracious tweet, thanking the legendary investor and his business partner Charlie Munger. “Appreciate the kind words from Warren & Charlie,” he wrote.

While there may still be some lingering tension between the two billionaires, it’s clear that they both have a deep respect for each other’s business acumen. As Buffett once said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” 

Investing in the Next Musks & Buffetts

Warren Buffett and Elon Musk have become some of the biggest names in finance. But they, like many others, started out with an idea, built a startup and scaled. The next generation of business leaders are currently building startups across the country. While previously, investing in the early stages of pre-IPO Tesla and Berkshire Hathaway were only open to accredited investors, thanks to changes in federal law, that's all changing.

Now anyone can invest in pre-IPO companies on platforms like StartEngine and Wefunder. There's hundreds of startups currently open for investment, including investing in StartEngine itself.

See more on startup investing from Benzinga.

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