Skip to main content

Elon Musk denies slandering employee for skipping work to watch child's birth

Elon Musk’s “nanomanagement” involves working with the engineering, design and production department of the Tesla car or Falcon 9 rocket, and Musk is known for his perfectionist attitude when it comes to business.

In a new book on Musk, Ashlee Vance reveals an email showing Musk’s less public-friendly face after an employee missed a company event to witness the birth of his child:

"That is no excuse. I am extremely disappointed. You need to figure out where your priorities are. We’re changing the world and changing history, and you either commit or you don’t."

Musk has refuted the quote, claiming it is falsified. In a tweet response, Musk said “I have never written or said this” and “Ashlee’s book was not independently fact-checked.”

That is an outright denial, which is curious considering Vance could potentially show the email with redacted names to fuel more drama. Vance worked with 300 people on the book, meaning it was not a quick dip into the life of Elon Musk, but a massive information finding mission to make sure all quotes were reputable.

Musk is all about the business, spending 50 per cent of his time at Tesla and the other 50 per cent at SpaceX. He visits family on weekends, but most of his life is devoted to his two companies and the managerial duties at SolarCity.

He would not be the first chief executive to run employees down for small negligence, Steve Jobs was known far and wide as someone who did not like failure, famously taking the MobileMe staff outside of Apple's HQ and “screaming” at them for their failures before firing every staff member.

Google’s CEO Larry Page has also been known for impatient outbursts when watching employee presentations, along with impassable goals for divisions. Sundar Pichai, the current head of services, is the mediator between Page and employees; stepping in when issues arise.

Even though some fans of Musk will come to his aid, it should be noted most CEOs in Silicon Valley are brutal with employees. The average wage of an engineer is higher than most jobs in the US, in return those engineers tend to work long hours and devote most of their time to the company.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.