Musk Looks to Distract from Tesla Earnings with Microsoft Lawsuit Threat

Elon Musk has a lot on his plate. 

On Wednesday, the Twitter owner and Tesla CEO publicly threatened to sue Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) for “illegally using Twitter data” to help train its AI-powered programs — after Microsoft refused to pay thousands of dollars for API access for Twitter support on its Smart Campaigns advertising platform.

On the same day, Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) reported a drop in revenue and net income for 2022.

Musk, OpenAI, and Microsoft

Musk co-founded OpenAI in 2015 but left in 2018 to focus on Tesla and SpaceX. He later said that he left because Tesla wanted the same people as OpenAI and that he didn’t agree with some of what the AI company wanted to do.

Microsoft recently became one of OpenAI’s biggest backers, announcing a multi-billion dollar investment in the company in January. While Microsoft is building AI from and with OpenAI into its tools such as Bing and Microsoft 365, much of Musk’s “Lawsuit time” threat should’ve probably been directed to OpenAI and its large language model (LLM) ChatGPT, which has been trained on a massive pool of data from different sources on the internet (including Reddit, which announced it will soon begin charging for commercial API use). 

Musk offered no backing for his accusation that Microsoft illegally used Twitter data and Microsoft has yet to comment on the matter as of this writing.

Before he threatened to sue, Musk described OpenAI as a “closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft.” And then he announced that he would be launching his own AI company with TruthGPT as the potential rival to ChatGPT.

“I’m going to start something which I call ‘TruthGPT’, or a maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe,” Musk told Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson aired on Monday.

“It’s simply starting late,” Musk said. “But I will try to create a third option.”

Around the time he was touted as one of the most prominent supporters of the petition to pause AI development for six months, Musk was also registering a firm called X.AI Corp, incorporated in Nevada, with himself as the sole director. Reuters also reported that Musk has been poaching AI researchers from Google for this firm.

Musk, Twitter, and Microsoft

Musk’s mostly one-way beef with Microsoft peaks with the “Lawsuit time” threat, which was posted in response to Microsoft’s decision to remove Twitter from its ad platform. This decision was quietly announced by the tech giant through a notice on its help page. 

Via Microsoft

While Microsoft did not say why it was discontinuing Twitter support on its Smart Campaigns advertising platform, many are speculating that it’s because Microsoft doesn’t want to cough up $42,000 to as much as $210,000 per month, reportedly, to get premium access to Twitter’s API.

But the real problem is…

Musk is not-so-slowly becoming known for his meltdowns, particularly after agreeing to buy Twitter for $44 billion (almost twice Glencore’s already ambitious offer to take over Teck Resources for $23 billion). 

This recent meltdown over Microsoft may just be an effort to pull attention away from Tesla, which reported its Q1 earnings on the same day. The carmaker hasn’t been having a good time since its CEO’s been distracted by his $44 billion baby, which Musk has pinned on the “stormy weather” in the economy. 

But it looks like Tesla no doubt met Refinitiv expectations this time around.

Tesla also cut US prices for the sixth time this year, much to Ross Gerber’s dismay.

Information for this story was found via Reuters, Mashable, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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