Oprah vs David Letterman, Musk vs Zuckerberg – take a look at the famous rivalries in business.
The world had some great business people who have achieved wonders in their life. We look up to them, admire them and even envy them. But with all the fame and success, they also attract a fair share of business rivalries. We are all about rivalry because competition in business usually benefits us, the consumers. But we don’t mind these great people engaging in a harmless donnybrook either, in fact, we appreciate it because it reminds us that beneath all the greatness, they too are normal human beings who sometimes do petty things like starting a ‘Twitter war’. We also admire it because it reminds us that we are more similar to our role models than different.
Here is a list of some famous rivalries in business
Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault
Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault are ranked as the richest and the second richest businessmen in France and they have a long surviving feud, of course it ought to be juicy. Arnault owns LVMH, a conglomerate which owns brands like LV, Fendi, and Givenchy. Pinault owns Kering, which also owns high-end brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. Their rivalry started when they both wanted to get their hands on Gucci which later Pinault was able to acquire. They first fought for a company then they fought for art.
Both these men are art connoisseurs and don’t shy away from vying for prestige in all things art. When Pinault revealed his plans to build a museum in 2000, Arnault too wanted his own. Arnault opened his museum in Paris, a magnificent piece of architecture designed by Frank Gehry in 2014. Pinault’s aspiration will become a reality next year when the Bourse de Commerce will re-open as an art museum exhibiting his personal collection.
Recently, Pinault’s son pledged that their family will donate 100 million Euros to rebuild Notre Dame and just a few hours later, Arnault too announced that his family will donate double the amount to rebuild the cathedral. At least, art is benefiting from this rivalry. More recently, Bernard Arnault has replaced Bill Gates to be the world's second richest man in the world.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg
This rivalry between players who play in billions started in 2016 and on Facebook when Zuckerberg went on Facebook to call out Elon Musk after his Internet.org satellite exploded in its pre-launch test. He wrote, “As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.”
In light of the many data breach cases that Facebook was a part of, Whatsapp’s founder Brain Acton appealed to his followers to delete Facebook in protest. Musk seized the opportunity and tweeted, “What’s Facebook” That alone, I think we can all agree, is a pretty solid own. Then he went ahead and deleted his and all his companies’ Facebook pages. Cold? It gets better.
A year later after the satellite explosion episode, Zuckerberg called Musk’s opinion on AI ‘pretty irresponsible’ and Musk reiterated by calling his knowledge on the subject ‘limited’. Not to mention that Facebook gives Musk the willies (his own words). Their business rivalry, may not be one of the greatest business rivalries, but it sure is an interesting one.
Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman
This one was a long one. The feud stemmed in the ‘80s when Letterman jokingly left his lunch tab for Winfrey to take care of during a vacation. Later, Oprah Winfrey told Time Magazine that her experience on the Letterman show was an uncomfortable one and that she would never appear there again. Letterman later began a series of jokes about Winfrey that made their feud last for nearly 20 years. His Oscar speech where he made a play on two famous first names, “Oprah? Uma; Uma? Oprah,” which many say capsized Letterman’s career, was also a part of his joke series targeted at Winfrey.
The two TV hosts tried to bury the hatchet when Oprah again appeared on Letterman’s show but the show seemed to be more of an explanatory one about how their feud started rather about them shaking hands. Officially, their famous rivalry came to an end in 2015 when Letterman went as a guest on Oprah’s show. Oprah explained why she felt uncomfortable at Letterman’s show and Letterman apologized.
Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana
Another fashionable addition to this list of famous rivalries in business. This fashion feud has has its roots in a common problem in the fashion industry – plagiarism. It’s very common for a major fashion brand to start a beef with a copycat whose only business is to sell knockoffs. But when one major haute couture brand like Armani accuses another major brand like D&G of plagiarism, the media enjoys a field day. Armani said that a pair of trousers that was a part of D&G’s 2009 Milan lineup was a blatant rip-off of Armani’s work.
D&G replied by saying that they had stopped looking at his designs years ago. To quote D&G, “Surely we still have much to learn. But definitely not from him. Stylistically, the Armani style is not, and has never been, an inspiration source for us and we stopped seeing his fashion shows years ago.”
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
Both these men have big visions about creating human colonies in space for which they and their companies, Blue Origin and SpaceX, are constantly a topic of public discussion. Their tiff started out as a sweet bromance with Bezos wishing good look to Musk on Twitter on the eve of SpaceX’s maiden launch of Falcon Heavy. Musk replied with a simple thanks and a kiss emoji. People were commending their camaraderie, but then 2015 came and their sweet bromance took a sassy turn on Twitter. Bezos bragged about his rocket launch in 2015 calling it “the rarest of beasts”. Musk shot back by tweeting, “Not quite ‘rarest’. SpaceX Grasshopper rocket did 6 suborbital flights 3 years ago & is still around.”
Perhaps Musk is being so impudent towards Bezos because of the many poaching incidents. Earlier this year, Bezos hired former SpaceX employee Rajeev Badyal to run Blue Origin’s satellite project Kuiper. Later, Bezos revealed his plans on Twitter to launch a new satellite-based broadband service, at which, Musk made a catty comment. He commented “copy and a cat emoji”. And we all know what it meant, it isn’t rocket science.
Famous rivalries in business remind us that business people don’t always play nice. But if these business rivalries bring us better fashion, space visits, and better TV content; we can still call it a healthy competition.