Elon Musk: Warren Buffett’s ‘kindly grandfather’ image may not be real

  • Warren Buffett has cultivated a public persona that might not match reality, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told The New York Times.
  • The billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO has “managed to create a great image for himself as a kindly grandfather, which is maybe overstating the case,” Musk said.
  • Musk said he wasn’t “the biggest fan” of Buffett and the Berkshire boss has “kind of a boring job” earlier this year.
  • Buffett is less divisive than other famous billionaires, perhaps due to his simple lifestyle, philanthropic efforts, and largely scandal-free career.
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Warren Buffett paints himself as a benevolent elder but might not fully deserve his glowing reputation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told The New York Times in an interview published on Saturday.

“He has managed to create a great image for himself as a kindly grandfather, which is maybe overstating the case,” Musk replied to a question about whether he thinks the famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO is “overrated.”

Read more: Warren Buffett’s Apple bet ranks among the ‘best investments ever,’ Berkshire Hathaway shareholder Bill Brewster says

Buffett, who turns 90 next month, ranks among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world. Yet he is far less polarizing than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, or even Musk himself.

The Berkshire chief’s surprisingly simple lifestyle, his love of soda and candy, his long and largely scandal-free career, and immense philanthropic efforts have won him legions of fans and positive media coverage.

He is also famous for educating and entertaining the investment community with his yearly letters, and hosting an annual meeting in Omaha that attracts tens of thousands of enthusiastic shareholders.

However, Buffett is also a ruthless businessman. For example, he loaned money to struggling companies such as Goldman Sachs, General Electric, and Harley-Davidson during the financial crisis “at interest rates that in some instances bordered on usurious,” Alice Schroeder wrote in “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.”

Read more: Warren Buffett dumped the ‘Big 4’ airlines in April. Their second-quarter earnings show what he was worried about.

Musk has taken aim at Buffett before. The Tesla chief said he wasn’t “the biggest fan” on Joe Rogan’s podcast in May, adding that allocating capital between Berkshire’s various businesses was “kind of a boring job.” 

The tech executive, who briefly overtook Buffett on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index this month, also dismissed Buffett’s idea of economic moats as “lame” in May 2018.

“I don’t think he’d want to take us on in candy,” Buffett responded to Musk’s comment.

However, Musk has also quoted Buffett in the past, suggesting there’s still a chance he will follow “The Big Short” author Michael Lewis in changing his mind about Buffett.

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