Skip to main content

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos End a Tradition in Corporate America

The world's richest man and the world's second richest man just ushered in a new era for CEOs.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos. 

They are the richest man in the world and the second richest man in the world, ranked in that order. 

They have both monopolized the ranking of the largest fortunes in the world for several months. 

But they are also the faces of growing social and economic inequalities.

Both are seen as symbols of the dysfunction of the tax system. 

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) even spoke of an oligarchy when referring to Musk and Bezos.

But the two billionaires are tired of taking the hits. 

They are now venturing onto the political scene, ignoring the famous unwritten tradition which until now wanted business leaders to remain neutral and focus mainly on their products and services. 

Musk recalled this new move into the policy sphere recently.

What advice does he give to other CEOs regarding the the need for political correctness or the need for having political points of view in the workplace?

And how does one deal with that Musk was asked during a virtual event in Miami Mid-May?

A Company 'Is Not Some Gathering Place' Musk Says

"The point of a company is to produce useful products and services for your fellow human beings," Musk responded. "It is not some political gathering place (...) Not lose sight of why companies should exist."

Musk, the CEO of Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report and SpaceX and Bezos, the founder of Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Inc. Report and Blue Origin seem to lose focus on this description of the company and corporate executives. 

They both now stand out as the number one and two opponents of President Joe Biden and the Democrats. They lob criticism after criticism at the administration.

"In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party," Musk wrote on Twitter on May 18. "But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican."

"Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold."

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

When Jon Favreau, former director of speech writing for president Barack Obama, points out to him that the Republicans are the opposite of all his accomplishments, Musk does not budge.

"Hey man, if you want to support a bunch of electric vehicle-hating climate deniers, that’s on you. Not sure it helps the cause that you and your team have dedicated much of your lives to, but I guess you’ll get some attention on Twitter, so there’s that!" Favreau said.

"Hi Jon! You’re a good dude, but obv die-hard Dem, so have to support the party," Musk responded. "But this Adminstration has done everything it can to sideline & ignore Tesla, even though we have made twice as many EVs as rest of US industry combined."

Equally critical is Bezos. 

The billionaire has recently become very active on Twitter, using his tweets to criticize the Biden administration and its handling of the economy. 

But one of his last posts is a comment on a very political post evoking the behavior of Democrats and Republicans towards the moderates. 

Bezos seems to indicate that he is centrist.

"how to create more democrats:

- be republican 

- act like an asshole to moderates," began the post.

"how to create more republicans:

- be democrat 

- act like an asshole to moderates."

"Seen you refer to yourself as a sh*tposter but maybe you’re mostly just a wiseposter," former Amazon's CEO commented on May 18.

Strong Rivalry Over Unions

Two days earlier, he had accused the Biden administration of wanting to "muddy" the inflation debate by imposing a tax on the rich to stem soaring prices.

"They understandably want to muddy the topic. They know inflation hurts the neediest the most," Bezos wrote, also accusing The White House of "misdirection."

Interestingly, the space companies of the two billionaires — SpaceX and Blue Origin — are or are applying to be federal government contractors.

The unconventional positions of Musk and Bezos are also to be analyzed with regard to the relationship of their respective companies with respect to unionization.

Tesla and Amazon are anti-union strongholds. Biden, and the Democratic Party generally, is a big defender of unions. 

Both billionaires believe they offer some of the most competitive benefits and wages in their respective industries. They therefore say that there is no need for unionization.

"In the case of Biden, he's simply too much captured by the unions, which was not the same with Obama," Musk said during the Miami's event.

Biden has called on Congress to pass a bill — The Protecting the Right to Organize Act — which would provide protections to workers trying to organize and limit employee interference in union campaigns. 

The PRO Act passed the House but is stalled in the Senate.