Billionaires Elon Musk and Warren Buffett Clash Over Crypto, Candy and Moats

Journalist:
Gerelyn Terzo @cryptogerelyn
May 8, 2018

Tesla’s Elon Musk and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett may both be billionaires, but that’s where their common ground ends. Musk, who is in his 40s, and Buffett, who is in his 80s, see the investment world differently.

They have been taking digs at each other via public shareholder meetings and analyst calls over the past few days.

Things got interesting over the weekend when Musk threatened to take on his rival, seemingly with a candy initial coin offering (ICO) dubbed Cryptocandy. It may be tongue and cheek, but channeling cryptocurrencies was no doubt meant to get under the skin of his older rival, who is bitcoin-averse and whose Berkshire Hathaway has owned chocolate maker See’s Candies for decades.

It’s unclear who threw the first punch, but it appears to have been Musk, who criticized Buffett’s use of competitive moats in his investment thesis. Buffett and moats are synonymous, and Musk clearly knew this when he exclaimed during Tesla’s Q1 earnings conference call:

“I think moats are lame. They are like nice in a sort of quaint, vestigial way. If your only defense against invading armies is a moat, you will not last long. What matters is the pace of innovation, that is the fundamental determinant of competitiveness.” — Elon Musk

Buffett fired back at the annual meeting, issuing a challenge to his younger peer.

“Certainly you should be working on improving your own moat and defending your own moat all the time. And Elon may turn things upside down in some areas. I don’t think he’d want to take us on in candy.”

Polar Opposites

Musk and Buffett couldn’t be on further ends of the spectrum from one another. Musk said last year he owns some bitcoin that was sent to him by a friend, though he lost sight of the funds. Musk was even rumored by some to be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, a theory that surfaced amid similarities in Musk’s knowledge of C++ source code that was originally used in bitcoin and Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies. Musk later debunked that theory.

Buffett, meanwhile, is nearly a Luddite, as evidenced by his use of a flip-phone, as CNBC recently pointed out. While Buffett’s view on technology stocks has evolved of late, his opinion of cryptocurrencies only seems to have worsened, as evidenced by his recent comparison of bitcoin to rat poison.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been critical of bitcoin in recent weeks. Image: Flickr.

Both Musk and Buffett have been making headlines of late though for different reasons. Musk has come under fire by investors for his dismissive response to Wall Street analysts on the Tesla earnings call, which led to about $2 billion having been shed from the company’s market capitalization. Berkshire Hathaway, meanwhile, held its shareholder meeting over the weekend and Buffett and his underlings used the platform as an opportunity to bash bitcoin.

Featured image from Flickr/Tesla Owners Club Belgium.

Gerelyn Terzo @cryptogerelyn

Gerelyn is Assistant Editor at CCN. Based in the U.S., she has also covered institutional investing on Wall Street but caught the bitcoin bug soon after. She resides 13 miles outside of New York, close enough but also far enough away to escape it all. Follower her on Twitter (@cryptogerelyn) or email gerelyn.terzo@ccn.com.