Billionaire Roundup: It's Fight Week, Apparently

By on July 5, 2016 in ArticlesBillionaire News

It must be the heat wave (the tropical heat wave). Things are heating up from coast to coast. Even the billionaires are throwing a few proverbial punches (or being punched – by the media). From Elon Musk and Tesla's latest acquisition to one of the Home Depot founder's political endorsements, to Airbnb vs. the city that inspired them – billionaires are fighting some uphill battles in this latest edition of the Billionaire Roundup.

It Has Not Been Tesla's Week

Elon Musk has a reputation for being, how shall we put this, eccentric. Brilliant for sure, but also a bit odd. But that said, who knows what goes on in the mind of a genius. This week, however, it seems like we're not alone in wondering just what Elon Musk is up to. Tesla Motors, and by extension Musk, is getting hammered on all fronts this week.

Tesla has proposed to buy Solar City for $2.7 billion. Solar City is the U.S.'s top full-service solar provider. The move has been largely panned by analysts. Most are predicting the deal will fail. Others call into question the sanity of Elon Musk. Some see it as a bailout for Solar City. Other think it will destroy Tesla's value. Just about everyone had their two cents about the deal. Few have mentioned that Elon Musk is already Chairman of Solar City and the cousin of the company's co-founders, CEP Lyndon Rive and CTO Peter Rive.

VCG/Getty Images
VCG/Getty Images

Home Depot Co-Founder Triggers Boycott Of Retailer

The billionaire co-founder of The Home Depot might want to keep his political leanings to himself in the future. He probably didn't think that his public endorsement of Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump would cause such an uproar for Home Depot, but, in fact, it has.

It started to go wrong when a self-described liberal website posted the inflammatory headline:

"Home Depot Founder Endorses Trump, Angles To Build Wall On Mexican Border."

The article's author accused Bernie Marcus of endorsing Trump to try to position The Home Depot to profit from Trump's proposed wall on the border with Mexico. That's almost as funny as it is ridiculous. The author wrote:

"…I have a sneaking suspicion that Bernie Marcus is only lining up behind Trump because he's counting all the money he can make selling supplies for that famed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that the Donald has promised to build."

Marcus was Home Depot's first CEO and its Chairman of the Board until his retirement in 2002. He endorsed Trump in an article in Real Clear Politics, saying he would "help him at every turn" to get him to the White House. Marcus didn't say anything about the proposed border wall or his plan to deport undocumented immigrants.

Nonetheless, The Home Depot disassociated itself from its co-founder's endorsement, saying that the company does not endorse Presidential candidates.

It is November yet? Good Grief.

Airbnb Suing The City Of San Francisco

In a case of biting the hand that feeds you, Airbnb is suing the city of San Francisco over its rental laws. To be fair, San Francisco pretty much backed Airbnb into a corner in June, when it asked the company to comply with tougher rental legislation or face daily fines. At the time, Airbnb did not indicate how it would respond. Would it comply or fight?

The company chose to fight. Airbnb announced its decision in a blog post. The company is suing its hometown over its newest rental regulations, arguing the city by the bay broke federal law and is basically trying to make things harder. Well, duh, that's bureaucracy for you!

The fight began in early June, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass legislation that would make short-term rental companies like Airbnb responsible for enforcing some of the city's rental laws. The new law passed on June 14th and was enacted on June 24th.

Under the new ordinance, Airbnb hosts in San Francisco are required to be registered with the city. This means that technically, Airbnb can only list properties on its website that have a registration number with the city, showing that they are in compliance. The Board of Supervisors compared it to a rental car company requiring a driver's license before renting a car to a customer.

If Airbnb lists properties that are not in compliance with the ordinance, the company would be fined $1,000 a day. Airbnb is arguing that these rules make it ridiculously hard for residents hoping to offer their homes up on Airbnb. Listing owners have to appear at a city building in person.

In the complaint, Airbnb is alleging that San Francisco is violating several federal laws and the First Amendment by restricting its free speech. It is also alleging that this ordinance goes against the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the Stored Communications Act.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. It is now San Francisco's move.

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