Elon Musk dreams big and tackles impossible problems. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are happy to aim lower: 'We don't want that much failure'

Elon Musk dreams big and tackles impossible problems. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are happy to aim lower: 'We don't want that much failure'
Elon Musk.Patrick Pleul/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
  • Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger weighed in on Elon Musk at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting.
  • The Tesla chief tackles complex problems, resulting in major wins and losses, they said.

Elon Musk dreams bigger and tackles much more daunting problems than Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, meaning he sometimes achieves great things but often falls short, the investing duo have said.

"He would not have achieved what he has in life if he hadn't tried for unreasonably extreme objectives," Munger, the vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said during the company's annual meeting on Saturday.

"He likes taking on the impossible job and doing it," Munger continued. "We're different. Warren and I are looking for the easy job."

"We don't want that much failure," the 99-year-old investor added.

Buffett, Berkshire's 92-year-old CEO, agreed that Musk focuses on much tougher challenges than he or Munger want to take on.


"It's a dedication to solving the impossible, and every now and then he'll do it," Buffett said. "But it would be torturous to me or Charlie."

The Berkshire chief said Musk's all-consuming lifestyle doesn't appeal to him, but the Tesla chief "wouldn't enjoy being in my shoes either."

Musk welcomed the comments from the two legendary stock pickers. "Appreciate the kind words from Warren & Charlie," he tweeted.

Buffett and Munger have both credited Musk for successfully scaling Tesla into a major automaker in the brutally competitive car industry. Musk, who dreams of colonizing Mars, has also pioneered reusable-rocket technology at SpaceX and experienced high-profile failures and spectacular explosions in the process.

Musk has distanced himself from Buffett in recent years, describing himself as a builder of businesses and products as opposed to an investor. He's acknowledged Buffett's expertise, but described the Berkshire chief's job of studying companies and allocating capital as "super boring."


Even so, the tech billionaire recently said Buffett would be an ideal US Treasury Secretary, as the Berkshire chief could do the job in less than one hour a week.

Musk has also chided Buffett and Munger for passing on the opportunity to invest in Tesla at a $200 million valuation in 2008. The automaker now commands a market capitalization north of $500 billion.

Read more: Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger warned a banking crisis is possible, AI may be dangerous, and government overspending will end badly. Here are their 18 best quotes from Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting.