Musk vs. Zuckerberg

In this corner, at 52 years old with a net worth of over €230 billion, we have the founder of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, and owner of X (formerly Twitter): Elon Musk. 

And in this corner, at age 39 with a net worth of over €93 billion, we present the co-founder of Facebook and the CEO of its parent company Meta, which operates WhatsApp, Instagram, and more: Mark Zuckerberg. 

Though it may sound like a joke, it seemed for months like these two titans of tech really would meet for a hand-to-hand fight in 2023. In this month’s Learning Nugget, we explore what’s behind the bizarre billionaire beef. 

SpaceX mishap launches Musk-Zuckerberg feud 

The first public sign of friction between Musk and Zuckerberg happened after a SpaceX rocket exploded in 2016. The explosion destroyed a $200 million dollar satellite paid for in part by Facebook that would have provided internet access to areas of Africa. 

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg said, in part, „I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite.“  


Different world views 

After the explosion, there were other signs of tension between the two billionaires. 

The pair traded barbs over Artificial Intelligence (AI). Musk has very publicly said he believes AI can lead to the destruction of society, and Zuckerberg called that view „irresponsible“ when asked about it on a Facebook Live stream. Musk retorted on Twitter that Zuckerberg’s understanding of AI is „limited.“ 

Along with that, Musk began taking public aim at Zuckerberg’s companies. He said that Instagram makes people depressed. He supported a campaign called #DeleteFacebook in 2018 by deleting the official pages of SpaceX and Tesla, and he has publicly expressed plenty more criticism of Facebook as well as WhatsApp. 


„I’m up for a cage match if he is lol“ 

Earlier this year, Musk made a comment on X (formerly Twitter, owned at that point by Musk) mocking rumors that Zuckerberg-led Meta was planning to launch a competitor to X. Another user joked that Musk should watch what he said because Zuckerberg had taken up jiu jitsu.  

In response, Musk said he was „up for a cage match if he is lol.“ 

Zuckerberg saw the post and didn’t laugh. The Facebook CEO took a screenshot of Musk’s post and put it on Instagram with the comment „Send Me Location.“ 

The next day, the head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Dana White, received a text from Zuckerberg. He wanted to know if White could find out if Musk really would fight. 


Is there a fighting chance? 

White helped with negotiations between Zuckerberg and Musk, and a real fight put on for charity seemed imminent. However, Musk never agreed to a date. Zuckerberg has recently said he doesn’t believe Musk is serious and it’s „time to move on.“ 

If you’re wondering who the favorite was, most people would probably give the nod to Zuckerberg. Though Musk is taller and much heavier, Zuckerberg has been training with top mixed martial artists for over a year and following a strict workout regimen. He even competed in a normal jiu jitsu tournament and won gold and silver medals in his weight class. 

Musk, on the other hand, has said he doesn’t exercise and suffers from neck and back pain. Additionally – and this is true – his mom has made it very clear on X that she doesn’t want her son to get into a fight. 



net worth – Eigenkapital

founder of – Gründer von

co-founder – Mitbegründer

parent company – Muttergesellschaft

billionaire beef – milliardenschwerer Streit

mishap – Unfall, Panne

feud – Feindschaft, Fehde

sign of friction – Anzeichen von Reibereien

provide – bereitstellen, bieten

to be disappointed – enttäuscht sein

launch failure – missglückter Start

tension – Spannung

traded barbs – Spitzen setzen, gegenseitig anstacheln
artificial intelligence – Künstliche Intelligenz
destruction of – Zerstörung von
irresponsible – unverantwortlich
retort on – erwidern auf
limited – begrenzt, beschränkt

take public aim – öffentlich etwas anvisieren

mock rumors – spöttische Gerüchte

jiu jitsu – Kampfkunst der Samurai

cage match – Käfig-Kampf

lol – laughing out loud – laut lachen

imminent – baldig, bevorstehend

serious – ernst

give the nod to – auf jemanden setzen

mixed martial artists – unterschiedliche Kampfkünstler

do exercise – Sport treiben

suffer from – leiden unter

neck and back pain – Nacken- und Rückenschmerzen

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