I know that Elon Musk has said and done some stupid things publicly, but I had no idea that his personal life was also such a mess. His first wife, Justine Musk, has some stories to tell. It seems he regarded her as his Starter Wife, who he tried to shape into his Trophy Wife, and who he then discarded when she was sufficiently obliging.
Still, there were warning signs. As we danced at our wedding reception, Elon told me, “I am the alpha in this relationship.” I shrugged it off, just as I would later shrug off signing the postnuptial agreement, but as time went on, I learned that he was serious. He had grown up in the male-dominated culture of South Africa, and the will to compete and dominate that made him so successful in business did not magically shut off when he came home. This, and the vast economic imbalance between us, meant that in the months following our wedding, a certain dynamic began to take hold. Elon’s judgment overruled mine, and he was constantly remarking on the ways he found me lacking. “I am your wife,” I told him repeatedly, “not your employee.”
“If you were my employee,” he said just as often, “I would fire you.”
He maintains that same transactional, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, and treats his assistants like disposable crap.
Here’s a good lesson for anyone thinking about asking for a raise. In his biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” author Ashlee Vance tells us what happened when Musk’s assistant, Mary Beth Brown, asked for a big raise after working for him for 12 years.
According to Business Insider:
In response, Musk told Brown to take two weeks off, during which he would assume her responsibilities and see if she was really critical to his success.
When Brown returned after two weeks, Musk told Brown he didn’t need her anymore.
Musk also told Vance that he offered Brown another position at the company, but she never returned to the office again after that.
That is also, by the way, a really out-of-character article for BoingBoing. It essentially blames Brown for asking for a raise from a billionaire, and tries to advise her on the proper way to be an indispensable corporate slave. I guess that it would also explain to Justine Musk that, despite having five kids by him, she was a terribly inadequate Starter Wife and deserved to be discarded by Musk.