Battle of the Billionaires: Jeff Bezos Comes After Elon Musk

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk signed a $44 billion contract with Twitter, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos pondered on Monday whether China acquired control over what happens on Twitter.

Bezos Just Doesn’t Like Musk

“It’s a good question. Is it possible the Chinese government has gained some leverage in the city square?” Bezos wrote in reply to a New York Times writer who mentioned Tesla’s big market and lithium battery reliance on China.

According to the writer, China will be Tesla’s second-largest market after the United States in 2021. Chinese battery manufacturers will be the main producers of Tesla’s electric cars.

He also pointed out the Chinese government “had absolutely no control over the platform” when it blocked Twitter in 2009. “That may have just altered,” he added, referring to Musk’s acquisition.

Nevertheless, Bezos went on to warn that Beijing is unlikely to obtain control of Twitter. “My own response to this issue is probably not,” remarked the Amazon CEO.

“Sophistication in China for Tesla, instead of restriction at Twitter, is the more likely conclusion in this regard.”

“Though we’ll have to wait and see. Musk is a master at managing this level of complexity,” Bezos threw in his two cents.

“Free speech is the core of a functional democracy. Twitter is the virtual town square where things crucial to the future of mankind are discussed,” Musk tweeted shortly after striking the deal with Twitter.

Bezos’ comments about Tesla’s ties with China are odd, in light of a December Reuters investigation that concluded Amazon caved into Chinese requests to keep doing business and develop the company there.

In 2019, the Washington Post – something Bezos purchased in 2013 – published an eight-page “marketing complement,” touting the Chinese government’s accomplishments and talking points in a segment that was off-limits to the writer’s publishers.

Bezos Makes his own Moves

After nearly 27 years as Amazon’s CEO, Bezos moved to executive chairman and chief executive officer this summer.

Over the years, Bezos and Musk have exchanged insults, slamming one other’s businesses.

In reply to an op-ed headed “Elon Musk’s Twitter Purchase Could Be Bad News for Freedom of Speech and Expression,” Musk joked on Twitter earlier this month that the Washington Times was “usually good for a chuckle.”

Republicans reacted positively to Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, a major social media site they have long blamed for systematically stifling their opinions.

After an 11-day frenzy that included opposition, then departure from the San Francisco-based product’s management board, the tech mogul and the world’s wealthiest man finalized the deal.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has long stated his desire to make Twitter private so it may function as a free speech venue for all.

“Freedom of speech is making a return,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote.