Elon Musk’s personal life has been rife with speculation lately — a breakup and makeup with Amber Heard — but on the business side of things, his existence is simply eventful as always. To be more specific, a claim within technology journalist Ashlee Vance’s book, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, is making waves regarding a long-time Musk assistant, who he reportedly fired a few weeks after she asked for a raise.
This claim inspired a rant by Elon, and then his ex-wife chimed in with some corroboration, and whoa. Let’s dig in.
The story’s somewhat more complicated than a straight-up firing, but that’s what it boils down to — if all events are accurately described. Mary Beth Brown worked as Musk’s right-hand woman for 12 years, and in 2014, she requested a significant salary increase. Musk reacted by giving Brown a two-week vacation, which sounds fantastic at face value. However, Musk used those two weeks to do Brown’s job in order to determine whether or not she was indispensable. At the end of that duration, he decided that Brown wasn’t essential to his continued success, and he let her go.
Over on Twitter, Musk is taking issue with this passage of the book. In a series of tweets, he calls out “bogus anecdotes” that weren’t cleared by him while conceding that the book was “mostly correct.” He did justify his firing of the “amazing” Brown by saying that she was a “generalist” when he really needed “several specialists.” He also ranted about some samauri/ninja thing:
Interestingly enough, Brown’s plight, as recounted by Vance, has reached the ears of some of Brown’s defenders — which just happen to include Justine Musk, ex-wife of Elon — who posted a statement on Quora about how she was “fired” from her wifely duties in the same manner as Brown:
“This reminds me of something similar he once said to me, many years ago, after I came back from a week’s visit with my family in Canada — that his life had operated quite smoothly in my absence. He was letting me know that I was an incompetent house manager. (He was not wrong.) So of the different stories I have heard behind MB’s departure from SpaceX, this is the one that resonates with me. (Although you would *never* use the word ‘incompetent’ in association with MB!)”
Damn, that’s ice cold. Although the jury is still out on whether that statement applies more to Elon or (at this point) Justine. Maybe both? You be the judge.