So, Musk did what Musk does. He tweeted at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:
Now, the truth is that Musk's Tesla is light years ahead of other competitors, having built more than 1 million cars and vaulted over competitors to become the most valuable car company in the world, with a roughly $179 billion market cap.
Zoox is a rounding error against the $1.3 trillion value of Amazon; in fact, if the reports of the acquisition are true, Amazon is acquiring it for a fraction of the $3.2 billion it was valued at two years ago, according to the Financial Times.
Moreover, the FT opines that Amazon might not really be planning to go after the consumer self-driving car market anytime soon. Rather, it might create "a ride-hailing fleet," or else "focus on integrating autonomous technology into its delivery network."
Still, Musk has been targeting Bezos all over the place lately, tweeting his support for the idea of breaking up Amazon earlier this month.
And they've had a feud for quite some time--although it's focused more often on the rivalry between Musk's SpaceX and Bezos's Blue Origin.
But after seeing this tweet, I can't help but think of what Steve Jobs would have thought.
Because long before Amazon and Tesla, and long before Twitter, and long before Musk and Bezos were--well, not before they were born, but a long time ago--Jobs engaged in some trash talking of his own.
The year was 1981, and Apple (then Apple Computer) had only recently gone public and turned Jobs and 300 members of his founding team into multimillionaires. But it suddenly faced a juggernaut: IBM, which announced it would be getting into the personal computer market.
As Walter Isaacson wrote in his 2011 biography, right after IBM announced its new computer, Jobs had his team buy one and tear it apart. They concluded that the IBM offering "sucked" and amounted to "a half-assed, hackneyed attempt."
With "cheeky confidence," as Isaacson put it, Jobs decided to take out a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal to "cleverly position the upcoming computer battle as a two-way contest between the spunky and rebellious Apple and the establishment Goliath IBM."
Its headline: "Welcome, IBM. Seriously." (You can see the ad at that link.)
Now, as things turned out it wasn't that simple. As Isaacson also wrote, "Apple became cocky, not realizing that corporate technology managers might feel more comfortable buying from an established company like IBM rather than one named after a piece of fruit."
And for a long time, IBM dominated the personal computer market.
Meanwhile Jobs lost control, was forced out of Apple, and had to start an entirely different company, only to have it acquired by Apple and eventually become a more dominant player again.
Case in point: I'm writing this on a MacBook Air, with my iPhone on the desk beside it.
And that's the lesson. Great rivalries among tech entrepreneurs seem inevitable.
I suspect Musk might be happy to be compared to Jobs. And Musk acts as if he's wanted a rivalry with Bezos for years. On a popular basis, it appears he's finally getting it.
But tech and business stories end in funny ways sometimes. While it's clear today Tesla is the dominant player in electric vehicles and perhaps even self-driving technology, there's an obvious question to ask: Would you bet against Amazon?
If there's a strategy behind Musk's rivalry, maybe trying to get under Bezos's skin and make that question harder to answer is part of it.