The writer Walter Isaacson has delivered the compacted stories of some of the giants in American life, notably creating biographies of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and his predecessor in innovation and personal industry, Benjamin Franklin. Now granted exceptional access to Elon Musk, perhaps the biggest star and most powerful individual on the planet, Isaacson is again coming to the public with the goods, as his publisher is pleased to report.
Though Tesla is the seminal brand linked with Musk, his takeover of social media mainstay Twitter is his most public — and publicly scrutinized — possession. In a revelation, Isaacson pegs Musk’s determination to purchase Twitter (for $44 billion) as an effort to rewire a culture he sees as going to seed as a result of his greatest heartbreak — the estrangement of his eldest child, a situation that bedeviled Musk as no business challenge ever has.
Isaacson reports that approximately two years ago Musk’s eldest child — then Xavier, age 16 — wrote to a family member to reveal news about her transgender status. An Isaacson book excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal reports that missive — a text — went like this:
“Hey, I’m transgender, and my name is now Jenna. Don’t tell my dad.”
But Jenna’s transgender news, and the secret surrounding it, isn’t what cleaved Musk and Jenna. That split grew out of Jenna’s “woke” discovery that modern capitalism has its critics, many of whom believe the system is indefensibly exploitative — making those at the top necessarily the exploiters. Jenna became an adherent to his notion, according to Musk, who has expressed the belief she was indoctrinated at school.
“Jenna became a fervent Marxist and broke off all relations with him,” Isaacson reports, adding that the Jenna rift “pained him more than anything in his life since the infant death of his firstborn child Nevada.”
Musk has tried to repair the rift, he says, making “many overtures,” but is currently resigned to the fact that “she doesn’t want to spend time with me.”
It’s not surprising that someone leaning into Marxism would have challenges in a relationship with the world’s richest capitalist — blood is thicker than water, but money is sometimes thicker than both. Yet Musk contends Jenna “went beyond socialism to being a full communist and thinking that anyone rich is evil.”
Musk, a business hero to many and a dangerous rightwing culture warrior to others, is “evil,” he admits, in the estimation of his eldest child. In a court petition to legally change her name, Jenna wrote: “I no longer live with or wish to be related to my biological father in any way, shape or form.”
[NOTE: Beyond Jobs and Franklin, Isaacson is also the bestselling author of biographies of Jennifer Doudna, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albert Einstein. Jobs also had daughter troubles explored by Isaacson.]