Elon Musk, Mark Cuban in online spat over diversity initiative in US companies

In a ‘battle of billionaires,’ world’s richest person Elon Musk and ‘Shark Tank’ fame Mark Cuban, who has a minority stake in the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, recently got into an online spat on the issue of DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) initiatives in US companies.

Elon Musk (left) and Mark Cuban (Image courtesy: Forbes)
Elon Musk (left) and Mark Cuban (Image courtesy: Forbes)

The war of words began with Musk’s criticism of DEI, with him describing the initiative as ‘literally the definition of racism.’ This led to a response from Cuban, who, in a post on Musk-owned X (previously Twitter), replied “…you may not agree, but I take it as a given that there are people of various races, ethnicities, orientation, etc. that are regularly excluded from hiring consideration. By extending our hiring search to include them, we can find people that are more qualified. The loss of DEI-Phobic companies is my gain.”

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Musk, who also owns SpaceX and Tesla, hit back at Cuban, asking the latter when the Mavericks will have a ‘short white/Asian woman’ on their team. The Mavericks’ minority owner answered with a link to an ESPN story from April 2013 on Brittney Griner, a 2-time gold medalist with the US women’s national basketball team.

Musk, meanwhile, noted in a separate post that ‘if merit for a given job is roughly the same, then the tiebreaker should be diversity (of all kinds).’

Cuban, on the other hand, was contacted by the Business Insider for his comments on the SpaceX and Tesla boss’ remarks. “Nothing to say beyond I’m just having fun,” he said.

The trigger behind their online clash was an essay by Bill Ackman, in which the hedge fund tycoon and Harvard University donor opposed DEI, saying that it must be opposed. Ackman’s essay came following the resignation of Claudine Gay, Harvard’s first Black President, whose critics argued she got the position not on merit or credentials, but because of the institute’s ‘focus on diversity.’

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