Only silence is great; all the rest is weakness, said the French poet Alfred de Vigny in his work “Les Destinées.”
This maxim seems to be Elon Musk’s attitude toward Mark Cuban.
Since his influence and power have reached levels never seen for a CEO, the serial entrepreneur has become almost untouchable.
Politicians are afraid to attack him publicly, his peer billionaires and CEOs even more so. It’s not that they fear sanction or loss of privilege. Their reticence is due simply to Musk’s character.
Like former Republican President Donald Trump, the techno king — Musk’s nickname at Tesla, which he runs — does not hold back.
He is abrasive. He often fires off insults, and he has mastered, like the ace of social networks and the influencer economy that he is, the use of memes, including the cruelest ones, to go after whomever he perceives as his enemies. Ask Bill Gates, co-founder of software giant Microsoft (MSFT) – Get Free Report.
Musk Sends Loud Messages to His Enemies
In May 2022, Musk protested because Gates had a short position of $500 million against Tesla, the flagship of his empire. Short sales are bets that a stock price will drop.
“Sorry, but I cannot take your philanthropy on climate change seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report the company doing the most to solve climate change,” Musk wrote to Gates. It was the end of a discussion the two billionaires were having about working together for common causes.
The mogul later accompanied his criticism with an unflattering and harsh tweet aimed at Gates: “In case u need to lose a boner fast,” he mocked, with split screen of a photo of Gates on one side and an emoji representing a pregnant man on the other.
The message was clear: He will stop at nothing when feeling attacked.
And his “enemies” have gotten the message.
As a result, it’s no surprise that it’s hard to find someone who will publicly criticize Musk. What criticism is leveled at him comes mostly from analysts, and it relates to the performance and prospects of Tesla, which is a public company.
In late 2022, a handful of Tesla shareholders publicly took the mogul to task when Tesla’s market capitalization plummeted by more than $600 billion, a collapse they attributed to him due to his involvement with Twitter.
The billionaire bought the social network in October for $44 billion and decided to make it a center for free speech, of which he says he is an absolutist. In doing so, he scared away advertisers by getting rid of all safeguards against racist, hateful and antisemitic remarks and the spread of disinformation. He also censored journalists who criticized him.
It is even harder to find criticism of Musk on Twitter, where his millions of fans — he has 140 million followers — lash out at any personality or medium that dares to post negative information about him.
One Who Hits Back at Musk: Mark Cuban
Then enters billionaire and celebrity Mark Cuban.
The star investor of the hit reality show “Shark Tank” is one of the few who have dared to contradict Musk in recent months.
In December, he asked Musk to define what he meant by free speech, so that all Twitter users knew what to expect and wouldn’t be surprised if they were censored, banned or suspended. Musk didn’t respond.
Cuban has just put extra pressure on Musk by hitting him where it hurts. The Dallas Mavericks owner says Musk is not a champion of free speech. Rather, he sees him as a monarch ruling a kingdom, in this case Twitter. He repeated those attacks in tweets on May 18, forcefully pushing back against Musk’s fans.
“Everyone has access. But @elonmusk has the ultimate reach and control. Who he supports or denigrates is the Twitter equivalent of State intervention,” Cuban said to a Twitter user who told him that he is “baffled by the notion that free speech doesn’t refer to allowing/respecting all viewpoints, but rather ‘promoting’ them.”
Referring to Musk, Cuban argued: “He owns the platform, he can do what he chooses. But it’s disingenuous to say Twitter is the home of free speech when he chooses to often put his thumb on the scale of reach.”
“It’s a difficult position for him to be in. He is opinionated and has every right to be and to tweet what he damn well please. But rather than saying Twitter is the home of free speech, I wish he would just call it like it is. Twitter is his platform and he is going to use it to support and influence the positions he wants to support and influence.”
Musk’s Response: a Deafening Silence
This scathing criticism of Musk did not please Musk fans, who saw it as a kind of personal vendetta.
“You didn’t seem to care so much when it was Jack, why so much now?” asked one Twitter user, referring to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO.
“I DMed Jack all the time,” Cuban responded.
DM means sending a private message.
“So did that give you extra influence during his time? Just curious about your thoughts on that?” quipped another Twitter user.
To which Cuban responded: “Nope. He didn’t like my ideas,” adding “he told me why he didn’t like them.”
Musk is not Dorsey, who remains a Twitter shareholder.
The only response Cuban has received from Musk so far is a deafening silence, which suggests that the tech mogul wants nothing to do with Cuban. Similar earlier criticisms Cuban made against Musk also went unanswered.
This was also the case last December and in recent months when Cuban challenged Musk on artificial intelligence and his efforts to revamp Twitter. Musk ignored him.
Considering the Tesla CEO’s track record, it is surprising to see him remain silent when he’s being attacked by someone, especially when Cuban is questioning what has recently made him a conservative hero.