Elon Musk responds to story of him putting his assistant through a 2-week test after her raise request

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Elon Musk.
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Larry Busacca/Getty Images for The New York Times

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a few words for the author who retold the story of his longtime assistant, Mary Beth Brown, who worked for him for 12 years.

Ashlee Vance shared the anecdote in his biography of Musk, “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” published in May 2015.

According to Vance, Brown asked Musk for a significant raise after working for him for more than a decade. In response, Musk told Brown to take two weeks off, during which he would assume her responsibilities and see whether she was critical to his success, the book says.

When Brown returned, Musk told her he didn’t need her anymore, according to the book’s account.

Musk took issue with that.

“Of all the bogus anecdotes, this one troubles me the most,” Musk tweeted Thursday night. “Ashlee never actually ran this story by me or my assistant. It is total nonsense.”

He continued: “Mary Beth was an amazing assistant for over 10 yrs, but as company complexity grew, the role required several specialists vs one generalist.

“MB was given 52 weeks of salary & stock in appreciation for her great contribution & left to join a small firm, once again as a generalist,” Musk said.

Musk said the biography overall was “mostly correct,” however, but “rife with errors & never independently fact-checked” despite his request for that.

Musk’s mother, Maye, also weighed in: “I agree. Some of the facts were glaringly wrong, but altogether the ‘bio’ was interesting.”