• 07.09.10

Tesla/PayPal Founder Elon Musk Defends His Finances, Personal Life

Some background: Elon Musk founded both PayPal and Tesla, the former of which was a massive financial windfall. The entrepreneur is also a major player in SpaceX, a private space exploration company that is to figure heavily in President Obama’s new NASA program. Musk has become a significant celebrity in Silicon Valley as a result.

Elon Musk

A series of pieces, largely from VentureBeat and published over the last month or two, accused Musk of being “out of cash,” putting Tesla (and possibly SpaceX) at risk. There were also reports that his messy divorce from science-fiction writer Justine Musk were largely the cause of his financial difficulties, in addition to excessive (more than $200,000) monthly living expenses. Justine Musk is seeking fairly large percentages of her ex-husband’s share of both Tesla and SpaceX, and is seeking to have a post-nuptial agreement annulled (that agreement would provide her with $20 million altogether).


Elon Musk himself responded today, penning a lengthy explanation and defense of his financial and personal situation that appeared in The Huffington Post and several other major online publications. In it, he addressed the issue of his marriage, stating that reports that a third party (notably his now-fiancee, a young actress) was responsible for the divorce are false.

Those kinds of tabloid details are interesting to Silicon Valley press, but what we’re really concerned about is the future of Tesla Motors. After all, Musk personally bailed Tesla out with his own finances–if he’s broke, doesn’t that spell trouble for the eco-car maker?

Musk says that while the reports of his asking friends for money to pay his exorbitant legal bills–around $4 million–are true, he’s not broke at all. He claims he has tons of valuable assets, only that they cannot be easily converted into cash.

Owen Thomas, the VentureBeat writer who is in large part responsible for the media firestorm (and who was personally called out in Musk’s column) called Musk a “serial fabulist” and insinuated the entrepreneur could not be trusted with money.

You can read Musk’s entire article here.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.