Musk, chief executive of Tesla Motors and SpaceX and co-founder of PayPal, took exception to two sections from Vance's biography that were excerpted in a Washington Post article and circulated on social media. One passage quotes an unnamed Tesla employee who claims that Musk chastised him for failing to attend a company event so he could be present for the birth of his child.
According to the book, the employee received an email from Musk that read, "That is no excuse. I am extremely disappointed. You need to figure out where your priorities are. We’re changing the world and changing history, and you either commit or you don't."
On his Twitter feed, Musk denied the claim: "It is total BS & hurtful to claim that I told a guy to miss his child's birth just to attend a company meeting. I would never do that."
Musk is himself a father; he had six children with his first wife, the writer Justine Musk, one of whom died of SIDS.
When the online publication Vox repeated the claim about the email, Musk tweeted, "I have never written or said this. Ashlee's book was not independently fact-checked. Should be taken w a grain of salt."
The entrepreneur also took issue with another quote attributed to him: "My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail." On Twitter, Musk retorted: "I've never called myself a samurai."
Musk didn't deny any of the other excerpts from the book, many of which portray him as a workaholic who struggles to maintain a personal life. One quote, attributed to Musk by a Tesla Motors alumnus, highlighted Musk's reaction when employees voiced concerns that they were working too many hours: "I would tell those people they will get to see their families a lot when we go bankrupt."
Another excerpt finds Musk, who has been married and divorced three times (twice with the same woman) musing over his love life. "I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time," he reportedly said. "I think maybe even another five to 10 — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know."
Vance's book, published by Ecco, will be released on May 19.