Elon Musk planned to hire Rudy Giuliani as political fixer – then he met him

‘This guy occupies a different planet,’ Tesla CEO said after meeting former New York City mayor in early 2000s

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 13 September 2023 16:20 BST
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Elon Musk planned to recruit Rudy Giuliani as a political fixer two decades ago before chafing at the former New York City mayor’s “goonish confidantes” and mob-style tactics, according to a new biography.

Mr Musk met with the recently-indicted MAGA Republican in the early 2000s as he sought political influence to help him turn PayPal, the online payments business he co-founded, into a bank, Walter Isaacson writes in Elon Musk.

But the meeting reportedly turned sour when Mr Giuliani demanded a 10 per cent stake in the business, Mr Isaacson writes.

PayPal investor Mike Moritz, who joined Mr Musk for the ill-fated encounter, told the biographer that it was “like walking into a mob scene”.

Mr Giuliani was “surrounded by goonish confidantes”, Mr Moritz recounted.

“He didn’t have any idea whatsoever about Silicon Valley, but he and his henchmen were eager to line their pockets.”

After Mr Giuliani demanded a stake in the payment business, Mr Musk told Mr Moritz: “This guy occupies a different planet.”

Rudy Giuliani demanded a 10 per cent stake in PayPal in return for becoming a political fixer, according to a new Elon Musk biography
Rudy Giuliani demanded a 10 per cent stake in PayPal in return for becoming a political fixer, according to a new Elon Musk biography (Getty Images)

Mr Musk was forced out as CEO of PayPal by co-founder Max Levchin and Peter Thiel before he could realise his vision of turning the company into “a social network that would disrupt the whole banking industry”. 

His former partners were reportedly unimpressed with Mr Musk’s idea to rename the company X-PayPal, which sounded too seedy for their tastes.

The company was later sold for $1.5bn to eBay in 2002, and Mr Musk used a $150m windfall to establish his rocket company SpaceX.

Last year, the Tesla CEO purchased Twitter for $44bn and has since embarked on a rebranding effort to turn the platform, now known as X, into an “everything app” for payments, messaging and e-commerce shopping.

Mr Giuliani rose to prominence prosecuting mobsters in New York before becoming known as “America’s Mayor” for his leadership during 9/11.

Peter Thiel, left, and Elon Musk, right, pose with the PayPal logo in 2000
Peter Thiel, left, and Elon Musk, right, pose with the PayPal logo in 2000 (AP2000)

After aiding Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, prosecutors in Georgia used the same RICO Act he employed against the New York mafia to charge him with 13 felony counts.

Mr Isaacson’s 615-page biography, released on Tuesday, contained a number of bombshell revelations.

It revealed Mr Musk has a previously undisclosed third child with his former partner Grimes named Techno Mechanius, prevented Ukraine from launching a surprise attack on the Russian war fleet, and how he is haunted by a toxic relationship with his father Errol.

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