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Elon Musk bets with former SUN CEO Scott McNealy that Tesla received fewer gov subsidies than SUN

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, reacts to a reporter's question following the electric automaker’s initial public offering on Nasdaq, Tuesday, June, 29, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

In a weird Twitter conversation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered a wager to former SUN Microsystems CEO and co-founder, Scott McNealy, on whether Tesla received less in government subsidies than McNealy’s SUN.

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For some reason, today McNealy decided to reply to a tweet Musk sent out two weeks ago. The Silicon Valley executive claimed that Musk’s supporters were unwilling taxpayers and he referenced a LA Times article from last year that mistakenly implied that Musk’s companies, especially Tesla and SolarCity, received $4.9 billion in subsidies.

The article in question is titled “Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by government subsidies”. The publication compiled data from government programs and estimated that Tesla Motors, SolarCity and SpaceX, three companies Musk is involved in, have benefited from “$4.9 billion in government support”.

When the article was published last year, we agreed with Musk’s claim that it was misleading and we even published a complete breakdown with comments on each government incentive and information that wasn’t included or simply glanced over by the LA Times.

McNealy, a fervent libertarian, seems to disagree about the relevancy of the article, which was published almost a year ago. The executive co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 along with Vinod Khosla and others. Khosla was SUN’s first CEO, but was ousted and replaced by McNealy, who then held the position for over 20 years. Interestingly, after leaving the company, Khosla became a billionaire venture capitalist and specialized in investing in clean technologies.

Now that he left SUN, when McNealy is not challenging Musk on Twitter, he is CEO of Wayin, a social media intelligence company. McNealy has yet to respond to Musk’s wager.

The billionaire CEO is known to sometime challenge people with friendly (though sometime expensive) bets. He placed a $1 million wager against journalist Dan Neil’s $1,000 that Tesla would deliver the Model S by late 2012, which it did. The bet was for charity. He also reportedly placed a bet with hacker geohot on who would be able to deliver the best self-driving technology.

Featured image: Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacts to a reporter’s question following the electric automaker’s initial public offering on Nasdaq, Tuesday, June, 29, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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  1. MorinMoss - 7 years ago

    McNealy needs more meaningful hobbies.

  2. Luke - 7 years ago

    Musk builds reusable rockets, self driving EV’s and overall hard at work saving the world…….meanwhile McNealy spends his time making regular appearances on Fox news and leads a “Social Media Intelligence” startup……….alrighty then.

  3. Dan - 7 years ago

    please,…. pleeeaaase.. Use a different picture of Elon Musk. You use the same picture over and over again. Good website though.

    • BEP - 7 years ago

      I like this picture. It’s funny.

    • quiviran - 7 years ago

      I like the picture. When I see it, I hear Elon Musk saying “What can you do when confronted by idiots?”

  4. Robert Nothaft - 7 years ago

    I love it when “critics” try to get one past Elon only to have the facts rubbed in their faces. So what’s your reply to the wager Scott?

  5. car names - 7 years ago


  6. cgibbons317 - 7 years ago

    I don’t mind how much play this website gets on /r/teslamotors but I would appreciate if the editors could pay closer attention to typos in the copy. “The article is question is titled…”

  7. positvt (@positvt) - 7 years ago

    Now I know what a jerk (and idiot) McNealy is! Go, Elon!!

  8. Bill Layton - 7 years ago

    Haha. “McNealy …. is CEO of Wayin, a social media intelligence company”. Talk about a useless occupation. Someone should round up all these so-called tech entrepreneurs like McNealy and teach them how to actually make things. Same with investment gurus like Buffett.

  9. Phoudi - 7 years ago

    McNealy… U Mad?

  10. John McLaughlin - 7 years ago

    The company name was “Sun Microsystems”, it’s stock was SUNW. ..the company was not called SUN.

    • ColinJ - 7 years ago

      Yep this narks me off too. In my head I was giving them the benefit of knowing that Sun itself was an acronym for Stanford University Network.



      Elon, Scott: stop fighting.

  11. danfrederiksen1 - 7 years ago

    Wow, that’s an ignorant position to take in such a public way. And he does social media intelligence now? 🙂

  12. wewa - 7 years ago

    McWeenie has been a loser for as long as I was a Sun Reseller back in the day. I ended up switching to selling HP and SGI, as they did AutoCAD and other software WAAAY better, from a price/performance ratio. An idiot narcissist, much like The Donald. LOL. Too many pucks hit him in the head, and the groin, it seems.

  13. MC99 - 7 years ago

    Is he mad that Sun Microsystems failed under his leadership? I know – I worked there. They spent too much time hating MIcrosoft instead of minding their own business.


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