Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and the rituals of buff billionaire boys

The hypothetical brawl of two middle-aged tech billionaires reached new and embarrassing ranges earlier this week when Elon Musk threatened to point out up at Mark Zuckerberg’s house uninvited and combat him.

“For the Tesla FSD take a look at drive in Palo Alto tonight, I’ll ask the automotive to drive to [Zuckerberg’s] home,” wrote the owner of X, which is what Musk has renamed Twitter. Musk promised to concurrently “take a look at newest X livestream video,” so viewers may “monitor” the “journey” in actual time: “If we get fortunate and Zuck … truly solutions the door, the combat is on!”

In reply, a spokesman for Zuckerberg advised the Verge, a tech publication, that “Mark is touring proper now and isn’t in Palo Alto. Additionally, Mark takes this sport critically and isn’t going to combat somebody who randomly reveals up at his home.”

God, there are such a lot of issues flawed with this, not the least of which is that there are a number of methods to settle a rating within the previous model of manly males — 10 paces at excessive midday, bum rush on the tailgate, a publicity stunt involving Joe Rogan — however being chauffeured to your enemy combatant’s empty mansion by a driverless automotive is none of these methods. In case your epic showdown dangers being short-circuited by a spokesman clarifying that no one is house, dude, you’re planning the world’s stupidest duel.

How we received right here: After years of rich-people mini-feuds between Musk and Zuckerberg (in 2016, a SpaceX rocket exploded whereas carrying a Fb satellite tv for pc value tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars}), issues got here to a head this summer time when Musk snarked on-line about Zuckerberg’s deliberate launch of a competitor to X referred to as Threads. One in every of Musk’s followers then joked that he must be cautious as a result of Zuckerberg is aware of jiu-jitsu. Musk then responded that he was “up for a cage combat.” Zuckerberg then screen-captured Musk’s put up, writing, “Ship me location.”

Then — sure, then, I’m so sorry, however this backstory goes on — Musk proposed discovering a location owned by the Final Combating Championship, and the UFC received extraordinarily excited. The group’s president, Dana White, claimed that he had spoken to each billionaires and that they have been “lifeless severe” about shifting ahead. Musk posted a video of himself lifting dumbbells. (“That is me curling a forty five, so there you go.”) Zuckerberg posted a photograph of himself, mid-grapple, in his “yard octagon,” a part of his personal personal “Friday Morning Fights” sequence: “Good occasions,” he wrote. This went on for weeks.

At one level, the nation of Italy was concerned? At one level, Musk’s 75-year-old mom was concerned? She urged on-line, utilizing the mommest emoji attainable, that violence was flawed and that the 2 plutocrats ought to combat “with phrases solely. … Funniest individual wins.”

At any fee, plans for an precise combat by no means got here to fruition. Musk hemmed and hawed and mentioned he might need to get again surgical procedure. Zuckerberg apparently bored with ready for a confirmed date and site, and Musk launched a textual content message that he mentioned Zuckerberg had despatched him: “I don’t need to preserve hyping one thing that can by no means occur, so it’s best to both determine you’re going to do that and do it quickly, or we must always transfer on.” On Sunday, Zuckerberg posted a public statement on Threads that reiterated the sentiment.

However we had not moved on, for sooner or later later, Musk was proposing his drop-in at Zuckerberg’s home.

Individuals who know one thing about hand-to-hand fight appear to suppose it’s fairly clear that Zuckerberg would win an precise competitors. Not solely is he greater than a decade youthful than Musk, however in recent times he has additionally studiously revamped his physique from laptop geek to bio-hacked bodily specimen, coaching with professionals in combined martial arts and borrowing Navy SEAL exercises that contain lots of of pull-ups, push-ups and squats whereas sporting a weighted vest.

To be honest, it’s not clear that Musk thinks he may win or that successful is even the purpose. “I’ve this nice transfer that I name ‘The Walrus’, the place I simply lie on high of my opponent & do nothing,” he posted in June. The place he appears extra serious about isn’t the place of victor however of the person who may win, if he needed to, besides he has this again harm, which is just too dangerous, as a result of he would win, but in addition he’s simply doing this all for the lulz, but in addition he would undoubtedly win, if he needed to.

Zuckerberg’s greatest mistake was taking the bait to start with. He made the deadly error of responding to trolling with sincerity, speaking about how he needed to carry consideration to combined martial arts and elevate the game’s gifted skilled athletes. Musk appeared extra serious about sick burns and alternatives for pwning. (“I suggest a literal d— measuring contest,” he posted in July.)

Whoever is extra at fault for this cringe spectacle, there’s something unseemly and deeply bizarre about being right here in any respect, caught on this peacocking masculinity disaster of the 0.001 p.c. One of many details of being a billionaire is that your cash does the combating. You don’t have to slug somebody; you may throw your weight round by way of mergers and acquisitions, shopping for compounds, shopping for yachts, making an attempt to purchase elections, launching your self into area.

What we now have witnessed, dragged out by way of the summer time, is the conclusion that for a sure breed of billionaire, none of this will likely be sufficient. Perhaps they’re pulled, towards or away from one another, by one thing primal. One thing primal and octagonal. One thing that tells the world they’ve already conquered that they aren’t simply Nice Males of Enterprise, however they’re additionally very, very robust boys. One thing that assures them that, however their geeky origins, no one can stuff them in a locker. Perhaps it’s simply boredom — a stressed aggressive impulse in quest of a recent outlet.

And Alexander wept, for there have been no worlds left to beat. And that’s when he received actually into MMA.

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