Buffett came up in conversation as Rogan and Musk discussed various types of billionaires. Some make money by “engineering fantastic products,” while others gain wealth by “investing in companies or moving money around the stock market,” said Rogan.
Presumably Musk is one of the former. And then there is the latter.
“Let me take Warren Buffett for example,” Musk said. “To be totally frank, I’m not his biggest fan, but he does a lot of capital allocation,” referring to the process of distributing a company’s financial resources to better its long-term growth. “He reads a lot of annual reports and accounting, and it’s pretty boring really.”
Musk described Buffett’s job as an investor as trying to “figure out, does Coke or Pepsi deserve more capital?”
“I mean, that’s kind of a boring job if you ask me, but it’s still a thing that’s important to figure out,” Musk said. “Like, which company is deserving of more or less capital? Should that company grow or expand? Is it making products or services that are better than others or worse? If a company is making compelling products or services, it should get more capital. If not, it should get less.”
In Musk’s opinion, “we should have fewer people doing law and fewer people doing finance” like Buffett “and more people making stuff.” (Of course, it takes capital to “make stuff,” and Buffett does invest in companies that produce things.)
Musk also told Rogan he thinks being a billionaire “has become a pejorative, like that’s become a bad thing, which I don’t think makes a lot of sense in most cases,” Musk said.
Indeed, as of late, some have questioned whether billionaires should even exist given the widening wealth gap in America and around the world. And since the Covid-19 pandemic, billionaires, including Musk, have been criticized for their lack of action and charity. (According to Musk, he donated masks and ventilators to hospitals, but hospitals contacted by CNN in April reported receiving bilevel positive airway pressure [biPAP] or continuous positive airway pressure [CPAP] machines, not ventilators. Musk has also criticized America’s continued manufacturing shutdown.)
“He’s trying to do something to improve a product and I salute him for that,” Buffett said, referring to Musk’s electric car company, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in 2018. “The American public will decide whether it’s a success, and it’s not easy.”
Berkshire Hathaway and a spokesperson for Buffett did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.