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Eight attention-grabbing particulars from Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography

Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Elon Musk has made headlines for its now-disputed account of how Musk supposedly scuttled a Ukrainian drone assault by pulling the plug on the Starlink satellite tv for pc web service guiding the drones. Each Musk and Isaacson now say the service was already restricted in a means that prevented the assault.

However the 688-page tome, for which Isaacson spent two years shadowing Musk, additionally fills in another particulars about Musk’s life and profession which have garnered much less consideration. Listed below are a few of the questions in regards to the billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO that the e book solutions, or a minimum of sheds mild on — and which Musk has not disputed, a minimum of to date.

Did Musk’s father personal an emerald mine?

Musk’s picture as a self-made innovator who bootstrapped his solution to Silicon Valley riches has been challenged at instances by studies that his father, Errol Musk, was the rich proprietor of an emerald mine in South Africa.

Musk has repeatedly denied the declare. However Isaacson studies that Errol Musk did as soon as swap a small non-public airplane for a share of the emeralds from three “small” black-market mines in Zambia. Errol Musk bought the emeralds to jewelers, raking in some $210,000, however the mines went bankrupt within the Eighties and little of the cash ever made its solution to Elon or his siblings. Elon Musk’s mother and father did make investments some cash in his first start-ups, although not a decisive quantity.

E-book overview: Elon Musk has his demons. Walter Isaacson does his finest to dissect them.

Why did Musk have Tesla purchase Photo voltaic Metropolis?

In 2016, Tesla shareholders had been queasy about Musk’s plan to accumulate SolarCity, a debt-laden solar-panel firm run by his cousins, wherein Musk had a big private stake. Musk floated the thought of a futuristic “photo voltaic roof” to assist justify shopping for the corporate.

Whereas Musk might have believed within the thought at first, the corporate struggled to execute his imaginative and prescient. That turned an issue for Musk in 2021, when Tesla shareholders sued him over the SolarCity acquisition. Isaacson studies that Musk made the photo voltaic roof his high precedence — till he received the lawsuit, after which “his fervor to unravel the issue receded.”

Is Musk constructing a “glass home” in Texas?

Musk has denied studies within the Wall Avenue Journal that he’s constructing a glass home in Texas and that Tesla was presumably going to pay for it. However Isaacson studies what could be a nugget of fact to the allegation: Musk purchased a horse farm throughout the river from Tesla’s Giga Texas manufacturing unit and commenced working with architect Lord Norman Foster, who designed Apple’s futuristic headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., on plans to construct a home there. At one level Musk advised that it ought to resemble a “shard of glass” popping out of the water, accessible from the shore by a tunnel. However Isaacson says Musk later described it as “extra an artwork venture than a home” and opted to “postpone constructing it.” The e book doesn’t deal with allegations that Musk or another person at Tesla might have misused firm funds to accumulate the glass for the construction.

What number of offspring does Elon Musk have, and with whom?

Isaacson’s e book reveals that Musk and his generally girlfriend Grimes secretly had a 3rd little one in June 2022, named Techno Mechanicus Musk, or Tau for brief. Tau is Musk’s third little one with Grimes and brings the tally of Musk’s recognized kids to 11. Two of these are the twins he fathered with one in every of his staff, Neuralink govt Shivon Zilis, as Insider first reported final yr — and which the pair saved from Grimes, who thought of Zilis a good friend. Isaacson studies Zilis’ being pregnant was through in vitro fertilization, with Musk because the sperm donor. “As a result of Neuralink is a privately owned firm,” he writes, “it’s unclear how the evolving guidelines surrounding office relationships utilized.”

Musk has justified his massive brood by warning of an “underpopulation disaster” as educated girls have fewer kids. Zilis tells Isaacson that Musk “actually desires good folks to have children,” a stance that could possibly be characterised as a type of eugenics.

Why did Musk purchase Twitter?

Isaacson’s e book depicts Musk’s determination to purchase Twitter as impulsive, and pushed extra by his psychological demons than logic. At varied factors, he theorizes that Musk needed to “personal the playground” after being bullied in class; that Musk’s life was going too easily on the time and he craved a brand new disaster; and that he made the choice to purchase the corporate outright relatively than merely becoming a member of its board whereas he was in a “manic temper,” pulling an all-nighter on a go to to Oracle chairman Larry Ellison’s Hawaiian island.

Musk expressed remorse on the transfer on a number of events, in line with the e book. In a November 2022 assembly with a Tesla design staff that was engaged on the corporate’s thought for self-driving “robotaxis,” a “drained and dejected” Musk stated of the Twitter acquisition: “I don’t know why I did it. The choose mainly stated I’ve to purchase Twitter or else, and now I’m like, okay, [expletive].”

Why did Twitter botch the Ron DeSantis presidential announcement?

Within the closing days of 2022, after Musk had laid off most of Twitter’s workers, the location started crashing fully for a lot of customers. It continued to undergo occasional glitches and outages over the following a number of months, and in Might 2023 a high-profile Twitter Areas interview involving Musk and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis was derailed by repeated crashes.

Isaacson’s e book factors to Musk himself because the perpetrator. In opposition to staff’ warnings, Musk had insisted on transferring complete banks of servers from an information middle in Sacramento to at least one in Oregon to economize. After they wouldn’t do it over the Christmas vacation, Musk and a carful of family and friends determined to drive to Sacramento and begin transferring the racks themselves.

They managed to maneuver the servers to Portland, Oregon, however Twitter was “destabilized” for months afterward, and the crash that plagued the DeSantis announcement was one of many outcomes. Musk admitted to Isaacson in March 2023: “On reflection, the entire Sacramento shutdown was a mistake.”

Why did Bari Weiss cease contributing to the “Twitter Recordsdata?”

Musk employed journalists Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi to comb via the corporate’s inside information for proof that Twitter had gone too far in suppressing conservatives’ speech. As they tweeted their findings in December 2022, Musk cheered them on. However he publicly broke with Weiss after she criticized him for banning different journalists, together with The Washington Publish’s Drew Harwell, a transfer she discovered incompatible along with his claims to be a “free speech absolutist.”

Isaacson fills within the backstory. Weiss had irked Musk in one in every of their first conferences by asking how Tesla’s enterprise pursuits in China may have an effect on the best way he managed Twitter. “Musk bought aggravated,” Isaacson writes. When she continued, “Musk stated that Twitter would certainly must watch out in regards to the phrases it used relating to China, as a result of Tesla’s enterprise could possibly be threatened. China’s repression of the Uyghurs, he stated, had two sides.”

Then, when Weiss was engaged on her Twitter Recordsdata installment centered on how the corporate suppressed some customers’ tweets with out telling them, she discovered that Musk had carried out that himself to an account that tracked the whereabouts of his non-public jet. Weiss discovered that “hypocritical” and spoke out when Musk banned the account and commenced suspending journalists who reported on the ban. Musk promptly reduce her entry to the Twitter Recordsdata.

Why did Musk go to the World Cup in Qatar?

Elon Musk isn’t recognized to be a soccer fan, so there was shock when he was photographed on the World Cup closing in Qatar in December 2022 alongside Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a variety of Qatari leaders. Isaacson reveals that Musk agreed to look on the World Cup closing as a part of a take care of a Qatar-based funding fund to assist bankroll his buy of Twitter to the tune of $375 million.

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