Bill Gates Surprisingly Praises Elon Musk Following Leaked Altercation: 'You Wouldn't Want to Underestimate Elon'

The billionaire sat down for an interview where he discussed what he hoped the future of Twitter might look like.

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By Emily Rella

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Could this be an olive branch of sorts between two billionaires?

It might be for Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk after Gates commended Musk's accomplishments just weeks after an altercation between the two over text message leaked publicly.

In an interview this week for TODAY, Gates spoke to Savannah Guthrie about Musk's pending bid to become the private owner of Twitter.

Guthrie questioned whether or not Gates was worried about the "proliferation of free speech" given Musk's outspoken views on free speech as a concept on the platform.

"The digital realm has facilitated interesting, wrong ideas spreading very quickly," the Microsoft founder pointed out. "And we need to innovate so that digital realm is a more positive thing of getting the truth out and that people are seeing that "hey, this is false.'"

Musk's whole debacle with Twitter began from a poll he posted to his profile which asked his followers whether or not they thought Twitter "strictly adheres" to principle of free speech before following up and asking if followers thought an alternate social media platform was "necessary."

Related: Bill Gates Talks About Divorce, Empty Nesting

"Not adhering to the principles of freedom of expression fundamentally undermines democracy," Musk said at the time.

Guthrie then asked Gates what he thought of Musk's pending acquisition of Twitter, and Gates' answer was surprisingly positive and supportive.

"You wouldn't want to underestimate Elon. What he did at Tesla is Amazing, helping with climate change, what he did at SpaceX," Gates began. "Will he this time make that improvement? Should there be laws that strike a better balance of free speech versus conspiracy theories confusing people? Elon thinks he can improve Twitter. I don't know specifically what he'll do. But there's an opportunity and we need innovation in that space."

This commentary is in stark contrast to text messages that were leaked between the two billionaires just weeks ago by the New York Times, which showed Musk rejecting Gates' proposition to work towards philanthropic efforts on climate change due to the fact that Gates was still shorting Tesla stocks.

"Sorry, but I cannot take your philanthropy on climate change seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change," Musk said in a message to Gates that was posted on Twitter.

The Tesla CEO later confirmed that these text messages were in fact real but maintained that he was not the one who leaked them to the press.

"I heard from multiple people at TED that Gates still had half billion short against Tesla, which is why I asked him, so it's not exactly top secret," Musk explained.

Related: What Other CEOs Can Learn From Elon Musk's Aggressive, Unorthodox Twitter Takeover

Gates did not publicly comment on the nature of the text messages or their validity.

Musk recently attended the Met Gala where he spoke about his hopes to make Twitter "as inclusive as possible" and similarly to Gates, noted that there was work to be done regarding bots and scams on the platform.

"We don't want people getting tricked out of their money and that kind of thing," Musk said on the red carpet. "I'm definitely on the warpath, so if somebody's operating a bot or troll on me then I'm definitely their enemy."

Twitter was down around 10.72% as of Wednesday afternoon.

Related: It's Official: Elon Buys Twitter

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Emily Rella is a news writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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