Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Elon Musk, Justine Musk, and Talulah Riley (Marriages and Divorces)

Elon Musk is a founder of Paypal and SpaceX, two truly innovative companies. I have a friend who is an aerospace engineer and he fills my Google Plus feed with SpaceX news. Elon also co-founded Tesla Motors and threw out the other founder. He has always been a hero to me - a truly innovative thinker who is unafraid to go where no man has gone before - but I was troubled today when I read about Justine Musk, his ex-wife.
Justine Musk
Source: Marie Claire
Justine Musk is a published author and she wrote a piece in Marie Claire about their divorce. He responded in a point-by-point blog on the Huffington Post about it, which was later deleted. She recounted the story of how he was unfeeling after their first child died of SIDS and called her "emotionally manipulative" while she was going through the grieving process. She also said that he told her that she read too much (she is a girl who reads), which is a cardinal sin when the female in question is a published fiction author.

I think a key part here is the conflict between types. Authors are generally INFJs and INFJs read more fiction than most because they empathize with the protagonist, often some sort of projection of the author. Elon Musk is probably an INTJ, which is pretty much all of Silicon Valley. INTJs are ruthless doers who stomp all over everybody and do not care about being liked. Someone who was trying to save his marriage would not give Justine Musk the sort of ultimatum that he did, nor would he bring her in to sign a postnuptial agreement in a mediation where she did not have adequate representation.

Justine Musk talks about how Elon pushed her ever further into a stereotypically feminine position, where she needed to be a perfect housewife. She says that she was not detail-oriented enough to do so, supporting my idea that she is probably an N. Her picture of Elon is borderline abusive, where the party with all of the power completely subjugated the less powerful partner; even though she has no stories about physical abuse, the SIDS story tells clearly a story of emotional abuse. Even though she says that he once took her to a bookstore and let her buy all the books she wanted, he seems not to have supported her career. They have five sons.

Elon Musk has gone on record saying that he works 100-hour weeks. It's so clear that he has not been a real father to his 5 children; people in Silicon Valley can work like that when they do not have families. But realistically, you cannot work 100-hour weeks and spend a lot of time with your five children who do not live with you. Life does not work like that, unless Elon Musk has created a Time Turner.
Talulah Riley and Elon Musk
Source: Zimbio

Talulah Riley and Elon Musk with his six-year-old twins  in 2010.
Source: USA Today

It's true that there are two sides to every story and I cannot read Elon's, because he took down that blog post on the HuffPo (8/24/2013 EDIT: There is a copy on Business Insider). What I can read is that he divorced Talulah Riley, a very lovely English actress to whom he proposed a few weeks after he got divorced from Justine, about 2 years into their marriage. He gave her $4.2 million out of his estimated $2 billion fortune.

It's just a troubling extension of his Tesla-New York Times dispute. I was so relieved to see that he had been exonerated and the NYT backed down a little.   But after reading the actual piece, what's evident is that the NYT is sorry to say that the journalist in question may have fudged the truth a bit. The Atlantic Wire tore apart Elon Musk's initial blog post and showed that his claims were not supported by corresponding points in the article by Broder.  However, several people, including journalists from CNN, made the long drive between DC and Boston to show that it was possible to take that route using Superchargers.

As much as I admire Elon Musk, I have to call his personal judgment into question; instead of staying out of the news, especially in something messy like a divorce, he publicly contested Justine Musk's claims. He also perhaps would have been better served by simply allowing the public logs of the trips to be made public to journalists, who might have had a more objective viewpoint than he showed when he wrote his first blog post about the matter. Elon Musk is sometimes lacking in judgment, especially when he feels that his honor has been impugned.

The problem is that he's not young enough to manage his online reputation like the celebrity that he is. He doesn't think of the Internet as my generation thinks of the Internet, and thus was far more willing to be heard and right. Js think that they are right all the time. They fight to be right. But it was ill advised and California divorce lawyers said as much. He's a brilliant businessman, but that same blindness to others, what in Peter Thiel is called "contrarian," has made his personal life public in a way that is embarrassing for almost everyone involved. He has five sons which have grown up in a world where their parents are publicly fighting.

I think the lesson is that you have to marry someone with whom you can get along. The top mistake that ERErs cite is marrying the wrong person.

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