Elon Musk says he’s not like Warren Buffett as he actually makes things – and rules out copying Berkshire Hathaway’s model

  • Elon Musk made a clear distinction between himself and Warren Buffett on an earnings call.
  • The Tesla CEO said he designs and develops products, whereas Buffett invests and allocates capital.
  • Musk rejected the idea of having a portfolio of businesses, or a structure like Berkshire Hathaway.

Elon Musk has distanced himself from Warren Buffett, saying he creates and builds things as opposed to playing the stock market and moving money around.

The Tesla CEO was asked, during the automaker’s third-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, whether he saw value in creating a parent or “umbrella” corporation like Google-owner Alphabet. The holding company would bring together his businesses, including SpaceX, Neuralink, and Twitter (assuming his acquisition closes.)

Musk replied that he saw limited overlap between his companies, and dismissed the idea of emulating Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett’s conglomerate owns scores of businesses including See’s Candies, Geico, and Precision Castparts. It also holds billion-dollar stakes in Apple, Coca-Cola, and other public companies.

“I’m not Warren Buffett,” Musk said on the call. “I’m not an investor. I am an engineer and manufacturing person and a technologist.

 

“I actually work and design and develop products,” he continued. “We’re not going have a portfolio of investments or whatever.”

Musk has previously taken aim at Buffett and his job, which centers on identifying undervalued businesses and allocating capital within Berkshire.

“I’m not Warren Buffett’s biggest fan, frankly,” Musk said last year. “He sits there and reads all these annual reports, which are super boring.”

“He’s trying to figure out: ‘Does Coke or Pepsi deserve more capital?'” Musk said on another occasion. “It’s kind of a boring job, if you ask me.”

However, Musk has also acknowledged Buffett’s immense skill, and the value of his work to the economy. He has also quoted the investor on past earnings calls.

Similarly, Buffett has described Musk as a “remarkable guy” who could be more discerning with his Twitter posts, and praised Tesla’s unlikely success.

The pair’s most famous clash was over confectionery. After Musk dismissed Buffett’s idea of competitive moats as “lame” in 2018, the Berkshire chief responded: “Elon may turn things upside down in some areas. I don’t think he’d want to take us on in candy.”

“I’m starting a candy company & it’s going to be amazing,” Musk tweeted in reply. He subsequently tried and failed to formulate a candy that was far superior to the competition.

 

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