Sergey Brin and Elon Musk are the enemies of Silicon Valley
I’m sorry for what I’m about to do here, but let’s talk about divorced men. I think Sergey Brin is trying to smear his ex-wife, and I think he’s using his history with Elon Musk to do that.
Musk allegedly had an affair with Brin’s wife, leading to their divorce. (PREDEGURATE.) Then, at a party, Musk fell to his knees, begging Brin’s forgiveness, “according to people with knowledge of the incident,” The Wall Street Journal writing. What a story!
Except: I find this sourcing weird. How many people? Two sources are different than 10 sources on this, or 30, you know? And what kind of knowledge? Were they there? I understand wanting to protect its sources, of course, but I need more context on this to understand how seriously it should be taken. Can I be sure that Musk, who is often behind the trends, wasn’t just trying to Ice Brin?
I ask these pointed questions because I notice Brin is still arguing with his future ex-wife Nicole Shanahan in court. Brin’s lawyers argue she’s asking too much – a billion dollars, rumored WSJ. I don’t know how WSJ source of this story, but I think it’s more likely to benefit him than her. If he proves she’s unfaithful, he can keep more of her money. And if she’s worried that more news about their marriage will hit the papers, she might be more likely to settle down quickly.
Shanahan has denied having an affair with Musk, and an anonymous source close to her told the New York Post that she is a “pawn” in the “billionaire playboy games”. I’m a little skeptical of anonymous single-source reports, but NYP rarely lacking in celebrity coverage, perhaps due to his extremely strong connections with publicists. (Page Six isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still great.)
If Brin’s folks are indeed behind the leak, that makes Musk’s reaction more amusing. musk says he’s seen Shanahan twice in the past three years – and never alone. “I haven’t even had sex in ages (sigh)”, he adds. After all, he may have been refused entry to a Berlin sex club last April.
To prove that things are good between him and Brin, Musk posted a photo of them at the same party in response to a the wall street journal editor who had tweeted the story. A strange choice. I remember an earlier photo that Musk was asked about: one of him with Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s right-hand man who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex trafficking. Musk says she “photobombed” him.
It’s kind of weird to deny that a photo is proof of a friendship and then post a photo as proof of a friendship. Musk was right with Maxwell’s photo denial: a photo of two people at the same party doesn’t mean much.
Look at the photo with Brin: Musk in the foreground; Brin in the background, not making eye contact with the camera, perhaps not even aware he was being photographed. The two are in a tent and Brin is holding a plastic cup – some kind of party. There are two other people in the photo who appear to be either children or very short adults. One carries Surveillance cosplay. I spent too much time trying to identify the trees in the background to find a location. (Yes, I emailed experts. They said the trees were too low resolution to identify.)
As for when and where: According to the Twitter account that tracks his movements, Musk’s jet landed at San Jose airport on July 23 and left on the evening of July 24. In response to Musk’s tweet, says a chef named Andrew Gruel (a cool aptonym, very Dickensian!) that he could attest to Musk and Brin’s attendance at the party together, where they were served lobster deviled eggs. Gruel is based in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he left the patio of one of his restaurants open during Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, possibly a commonality with Musk.
“Nicole and Sergey’s divorce has absolutely nothing to do with me,” Musk wrote via email. New York Post. (It’s also, for what it’s worth, the second celebrity divorce in which Musk has been accused of wrecking; Johnny Depp claimed that Musk started a relationship with his now ex-wife, Amber Heard, a month after the Depp and Heard’s wedding. .)
Brin invested at least $500,000 in Tesla, Tim Higgins’ book says power play. Brin allegedly invested an unknown amount in 2006, according to Initiated. According to the recent WSJ story, Brin “directed his financial advisors to sell his personal investments in Mr. Musk’s businesses,” although the story did not determine the size of the investments or whether any sales occurred.
I think I know why! Because all of those investments, if sold, would then become part of the negotiations that Brin and Shanahan engage in around their divorce. The tip of the WSJ the story is to smear Shanahan, not tell him where all the money is! Brin could still party with Musk, but it sure looks like his lawyers hung Musk up to dry just to get to Shanahan.
Why this aggression towards Musk? They have a story. It’s possible that Musk first dubbed the name “Autopilot” from Google. Apparently Larry Page and Brin were thinking of buying Tesla while letting Musk stay in charge, according to Ashlee Vance’s biography on Musk. That didn’t happen, largely because of Musk’s self-promotional abilities at PT Barnum. “Looking back, it’s clear that Musk was—at a minimum—either inspired or scared” into self-driving cars, wrote Edward Niedermeyer, another Musk biographer.
In 2018, before Brin left Google, it was clear that rivalry was brewing between Tesla and Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo. In January 2021, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said, “To us, Tesla is not a competitor at all.” Waymo even dropped the term “self-driving” to refer to its autonomous vehicles in 2021, saying, “It may seem like a small change, but it’s a big change because precision in language is important and could save Lives.” It sounds like a dig at Tesla, which calls its driver assistance program “complete self-driving.”
Now, to be clear, the majority of the Waymo/Tesla beef started after Brin left Google. And Brin and Musk definitely seem to be at the same party. But I must say – unless Brin and Musk have agreed to divulge the WSJ story together to screw Shanahan as part of a tech-bro plot – they’re much more like enemies, notably since Brin hasn’t said anything publicly to clear this up.
Tech-bro haters are a Silicon Valley staple. Musk’s long relationship with Peter Thiel, who engineered the PayPal coup that ousted Musk, is a prime example. All of these guys need each other and maybe some kind of quiet hatred for each other as well. Sounds stressful! But it seems everyone will get what they need here, except maybe Shanahan, who is also very Silicon Valley.
As for Musk misfortune–it’s me tweet on warning: lol, lmao. His whole game with retail shareholders is to capture attention. My boyfriend loves this! Do you remember the McLaren? Remember the song “Don’t Doubt ur Vibe?” The fake robot? Musk seems like an obvious student of NASA scientist (and Nazi) Wernher von Braun, and Twitter is where he does his version of “Man Will Conquer Space Soon.” He needs attention. After all, isn’t that why he buys Twitter?
Which may mean Brin and Musk are still friends after all. I’m pretty sure at this point that Musk can’t tell the difference between good attention and bad attention. As long as he’s the center of attention, he’s happy, because attention sells Teslas.