On the surface, the two couldn't be more different. Musk made a name for himself by making bold bets on futuristic technology: digital payments, electric cars, solar panels and privatized space exploration. His businesses typically require years of upfront investment before showing a profit.
He's cerebral but a little reckless, like a precociously smart teenager — he proudly told the story of how he crashed a $3.5 million McLaren sports car while driving too fast in a bid to impress Peter Thiel. And he didn't think to buy insurance first.
Trump, on the other hand, built his fortune in a business firmly rooted in the here and now, real estate, and his temperament is more like the scolding school principal's.
They're also diametrically opposed when it comes to climate change. Musk's business interests revolve around reducing dependence on fossil fuels, while Trump has pledged to cut through regulations meant to fight climate change, and once called it a hoax (although his pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, has admitted it's real).
So what to make of the fact that Musk was at the White House on Monday, appearing alongside execs from Ford and other old-line companies like Lockheed Martin and Johnson & Johnson? In addition, Musk was part of the December meeting between tech leaders and Trump, even though his companies have a much smaller market value than most of the others represented around the table, and he was reportedly invited to stay for a second smaller meeting alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook.