Earlier this week, 19-year-old Jack Sweeney gained a bit of internet fame when posted a story about one of their bots on Twitter. The university maintains ElonJet, a tracker that tweets when Elon Musk’s private jet takes off and lands. Sweeney has several other bots that use publicly available air traffic data to track the private planes of celebrities like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. However, with 180,000 followers and counting, the ElonJet account is by far Sweeney’s most famous creation. And it is this popularity that attracted none other than Elon Musk to the bot.
Last fall, the manager contacted Sweeney about ElonJet. “Can you take this off? It’s a security risk,” he said, according to Protocol. Musk told Sweeney he would give him $5,000 to delete the account and keep “crazy people” from discovering his whereabouts. Sweeney made a counter-offer. “Any chance to increase this to $50K? It would be a great support in college and possibly allow me to buy a car, maybe even a Model 3.”
Musk told him he would think about it, but the two haven’t spoken since. At the time, Sweeney said Protocol he didn’t mind Musk being his ghost. His work at ElonJet taught him to code and landed him a part-time job at a company called UberJets. Also, as a self-proclaimed fan, he had to share a conversation with one of his idols.
Now, the teenager seems to have changed his tune. In a new interview with , he said he decided to go public with Musk’s offer after the billionaire apparently lost interest in striking a deal. “He went in the opposite direction of me, so why wouldn’t I go in the opposite direction of him?” he asked the publication. “I worked a lot on this and $5,000 is not enough,” Sweeney said. He said Business Insider the initial offer would not replace the “fun” he had working on the bot.
It doesn’t seem like Musk has any interest in negotiating with Sweeney. After the initial conversation, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO implemented some of the technical advice Sweeney gave him to make his jet more difficult to track. At the time, Musk also reportedly told Sweeney that “it didn’t feel right to pay to close this thing down.” He probably has a point.
All products recommended by Ploonge are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.