Final month, Insider printed an explosive report a couple of former SpaceX flight attendant who accused SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk of propositioning her for intercourse in 2016 and to whom the corporate paid $250,000 to maintain quiet. Musk instantly labeled the story “a politically motivated hit piece,” whereas SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell got here to Musk’s protection in a company-wide electronic mail coated by CNBC through which she wrote: “Personally, I consider the allegations to be false; not as a result of I work for Elon, however as a result of I’ve labored carefully with him for 20 years and by no means seen nor heard something resembling these allegations.”
Alas, a brand new and much more damaging Insider report is placing Shotwell — and each different govt insider Musk’s numerous corporations — in an much more uncomfortable place.
In accordance with the story, printed late this afternoon, “court docket paperwork obtained by Insider present that the tech mogul Elon Musk quietly had twins final November with certainly one of his high executives, Shivon Zilis. In April, Musk, 51, and Zilis, 36, filed a petition to vary the twins’ names to be able to ‘have their father’s final identify and comprise their mom’s final identify as a part of their center identify.’” The order was authorised by a decide in Austin in Could, provides the report, and the “twins had been born weeks earlier than Musk and Claire Boucher, the musician who performs as Grimes, had their second little one by way of surrogate in December.”
Till not too long ago, that very same web page said that the work expertise of Zilis — a Yale graduate who started her profession at IBM, then invested on behalf of the Bloomberg-backed enterprise outfit Bloomberg Beta till early 2016 — included Neuralink, Tesla and OpenAI.
All three, after all, have deep ties to Musk, who based Neuralink, cofounded OpenAI and assumed management of Tesla again in 2008.
Particularly, says Insider, Zilis first met Musk in 2016 whereas a director at OpenAI, the place she is now the youngest member on its board of administrators.
In 2017, she reportedly joined Tesla as a venture director.
Immediately, Zilis holds the title of director of operations and particular tasks for Neuralink, the place Musk is a co-CEO.
The outlet additionally says that Zilis has not too long ago been floated as one of many folks Musk might faucet to run Twitter if his proposed $44 billion acquisition of the corporate goes ahead as anticipated.
TechCrunch has not independently verified Insider’s account. Musk, who is usually extremely energetic on Twitter and who didn’t reply to requests for remark from Insider (neither did Zilis), is in the meantime remaining mum for now, although he final month tweeted that falling start charges within the U.S. are a “demographic catastrophe,” including, “I imply, I’m doing my half haha.”
The most important query the story raises, past what number of youngsters Musk plans to father — it’s wanting like he has no less than 9 with numerous companions — is whether or not any of those corporations have fraternization insurance policies that prohibit romantic relationships between a supervisor and a reporting workers member.
Whereas most corporations the scale of Tesla and SpaceX prohibit courting relationships between workers who’re separated by two ranges within the chain of command, Musk is thought for flaunting conventional guidelines. (A Tesla worker handbook from 2020 isn’t precisely commonplace fare, warning that “Our assumption will likely be that should you don’t name and don’t present up for work, you’re a jerk. You higher have a very good motive for not letting us know why you didn’t are available otherwise you’re out of right here.”)
Even when Neuralink, Tesla and OpenAI (the place Musk disassociated himself in 2019) do not need insurance policies in place stopping fraternization, this new report is massively problematic. Musk having secret youngsters with a direct report will clearly show an enormous distraction to different staffers. It’s unhealthy for morale, which is the very last thing that Tesla specifically would appear to wish proper now given its many different worker battles. It might additionally open up Musk’s corporations to huge lawsuits from Zilis if sooner or later down the highway, she decides he abused the facility he wielded as CEO.
Not final, although doubtless least regarding, the event will in all probability not be regarded on kindly by the U.S. authorities, which has already been chilly towards Tesla underneath the Biden administration. (The federal government is a individually a big buyer of SpaceX, the place Zilis has not been an worker.)
Within the meantime, the report makes the board of administrators at Musk’s corporations look astonishingly lax, and it places defenders like Shotwell within the place of getting to reassure workers that Musk has the identical laser-like deal with his corporations’ success as he says he expects of them. Little doubt she is being requested to try this tonight, maybe in one other company-wide electronic mail. We don’t envy her the job.