The right hand of Elon Musk: who manages the largest fortune in the world

  1. “The right hand of Elon Musk: who controls the largest fortune in the world”
  2. Man #2
  3. On the sidelines, but not of secondary importance
  4. Ancillary work

Jared Birchall is the right-hand man who does everything from securing funding for deals on Twitter to finding compromising evidence on opponents.

Jared Birchall in 2019. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

I recently read an interesting article on Bloomberg about Jared Birchall. Most likely, like me, you have hardly heard this name before. Despite Birchall managing the affairs of the richest man in the world and Elon Musk’s right-hand man, he does so from a low profile.

Below I publish an adapted translation of the article for further discussion.

“The right hand of Elon Musk: who controls the largest fortune in the world”

Collect dirt on the enemy. Made. Ensure the issuance of impressive loans. No problem. Hire bodyguards, sell a few houses, and run — at least on paper — a billion-dollar company. No problems. It’s all the work of Jared Birchall, Elon Musk’s right-hand man, who has been handling the financial affairs and performing the whims of the world’s richest man for the past six years.

As befits professional solvers, Birchall has largely remained in the shadows for most of his career. His university comrades claim they don’t remember him. As well as former colleagues from Merrill Lynch, from where he was fired for inappropriate behavior.

But Birchall, 47, is one of the most important people around Musk. He manages the Tesla owner’s family capital as part of the Excession company, manages a new fund, and manages Musk’s personal affairs. People familiar with Birchall characterize him as a calm and well-mannered man who is essentially the main assistant to a capricious and controversial billionaire.

Fulfilling this role became more difficult the faster Musk’s fortune grew. Most recently, the assistant’s responsibilities included facilitating the purchase of Twitter Inc. with a complex financing scheme that initially included a record $12.5 billion loan tied to Musk’s stake in Tesla. The $44 billion takeover of the company not only boosted the image of an already popular figure, Musk, but also drew attention to Birchall.

Working with a very small team, he interacted with Wall Street, arranging for the loans needed to close the deal. And while he has no experience in handling multibillion-dollar acquisitions, Birchall managed to win over the banks and get financing — not without the help of the Morgan Stanley company, for which he once worked.

Musk recently revealed that a group of investors had already contributed more than $7 billion. Among these investors were: Oracle Corp. billionaire Larry Ellison, venture capital company Sequoia Capital and cryptocurrency exchange Binance. A person close to the negotiations with Binance claims that Birchall was one of the main individuals who helped move the deal forward.

And of course, there are nuances in the management of all Musk’s affairs. The life of a billionaire is not easy. He is often on the road, making important decisions along the way with serious consequences: for example, to sell all his houses or out of the blue to buy a company that owns a social network. And all this against the background of the expansion of his already large family and the growth of personal popularity. With such a life, a person is simply needed who will carry all the routine — hire a plane, sell houses, communicate with bankers, hire nannies and security guards. For Musk, Birchall does it all.

Man #2

If you want to clarify the facts of his biography, Birchall will not answer either the message or the call. Unlike his boss, who has over 90 million Twitter followers, Birchall has a minimal online presence. He follows 40 people on Twitter, including Musk and all of his companies, but has not written or liked a single tweet. He is a bit more active on Facebook, posting photos of his five children, videos, and posts from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Most often, Birchall is described as “pleasant” — four different people interviewed for this article used this word. But even people who talked to him can say little about him, because he says almost nothing.

Birchall made his financial debut at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., joining immediately after graduating from Brigham Young University in 1999. In 2000, he moved to Los Angeles and took a job at Merrill Lynch, a wealth management company, from where he was fired for “sending correspondence to a client without management’s approval.” Birchall moved to Morgan Stanley in 2010. His former colleague from this company describes him as a man who does not have enough stars from the sky, but manages the fortunes of the rich very well.

Then Musk needed his services. Birchall left Morgan Stanley in 2016 to help the Tesla leader establish family wealth management company Excession.

Compliance with corporate culture plays an important role in managing family capital. In the case of Excession, the incredible union of Birchall, a modest family man Mormon, and Musk, a three-time divorced online provocateur, who could easily get stoned in public and have two children with singer Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes, is surprising. The boy and girl were named X and Y, respectively.

Like everything about Musk, this family wealth management company is out of the ordinary. It should not be forgotten that Musk directs most of his investments, with the exception of the recent purchase of Twitter, to his own companies: Tesla, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., The Boring Co. and Neuralink. Most of Musk’s fortune, nearly $250 billion, comes from his 16% stake in Tesla, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Rankings.

On the sidelines, but not of secondary importance

At the moment of a sharp jump in the state of Elon Musk, Birchall was next to the billionaire. It is possible that Birchall also earned a lot, albeit incomparably less than the sky-high sums of his boss. A Morgan Stanley report says the typical family wealth manager earns between $1 million and $3 million a year. But this amount can be much higher depending on the responsibilities, especially if they include direct financial management by selecting stocks or hedge funds to invest in.

The rise of Elon Musk’s fortune. Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Nevertheless, Excession is an extremely modest enterprise, uncharacteristic of such a huge fortune as Musk’s. The firm has only two directors, Musk admitted in 2019. Similar family wealth management firms may employ more than 100 people. These are researchers, managers, an investment committee, as well as a group of people who are entrusted with day-to-day tasks: for example, hiring security guards or nannies, organizing trips. Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment employs dozens of people in various roles: venture capital, real estate, and stock speculation.

Birchall does not work alone. Alex Spiro, Musk’s attorney, played a key role in unraveling the billionaire’s tangle of SEC-related issues.

When Elon Musk sold his California homes and moved to Texas, Excession, the Musk Foundation, Ad Astra School, and several of his other companies followed suit. Birchall also followed him. He moved his family there and bought a house in Austin for $2.25 million. At the same time, Birchall is listed in each of the companies that moved to Texas, as a director, manager, financial director or someone else. Neuralink is no exception — Musk’s company, which plans to introduce brain implants, where Birchall is listed as a director and responsible officer.

But it is not certain that Birchall has executive powers in all of these organizations. For example, according to a knowledgeable employee, his name appears in Neuralink documents for purely legal purposes. Birchall rarely visits the Neuralink office and is not involved in day-to-day operations.

Birchall performs duties more typical of a family office executive, such as establishing relationships with large banks, which Musk usually turns to for mega loans. These banks significantly helped Musk increase his fortune: he financed new ventures with borrowed funds and was able to avoid selling Tesla shares. It also helped save a lot on taxes.

Here is a curious fact from text messages between Musk and his confidants, published as part of a study of his 2018 tweets about the buyout of the entire Tesla at a price of $420 per share. Among hundreds of messages and calls, only a single exchange of information between him and Birchall is recorded — a text message in which Birchall suggests that his former Morgan Stanley employers be involved in any privatization deal, since “at the moment they are our best personal resource.”

“They provide the largest (up to $350 million) amounts, and every time we require them to increase loans or lower rates, they agree,” he wrote. In 2018, Musk took out a $61 million mortgage on five properties in California with the help of Morgan Stanley. “I agree with you,” Musk replied.

Ancillary work

At times, Birchall’s work for Musk seemed to go against his reputation as a good guy. Back in 2018, Birchall was tasked with collecting dirt on a participant in the “pedophile case” who criticized Musk’s proposal to use a SpaceX submarine to rescue a trapped soccer team in Thailand.

Birchall, under the pseudonym James Brickhouse, hired a scammer who called himself a private detective. In his testimony, Birchall claimed to have used Brickhouse’s surname before, for example, to organize Musk’s trip or buy the domain (the deal regarding the site never went through.) Musk ultimately won the case.

According to Congnus Group’s Tayyab Mohamed, it’s not uncommon for family office leaders to be given this “support job.” That’s why it’s hard to hire someone who’s worked on Wall Street for this position. “The line between personal and professional is blurred very often,” he said.

In recent years, Birchall has reached out to non-profits on behalf of the Musk Foundation, such as hosting the $100 million XPrize environmental contest, gifts for the Feeding Texas charity, and supplying a couple of Covid-19 researchers with millions of dollars.

Over the past couple of years, he has sometimes outsourced some tasks to Igor Kurgarov, a former poker player turned “altruist literate” chief grantee coordinator for the Musk Foundation. Birchall still accepts applications frequently, says Dan Barush, one of the Covid-19 researchers who received $2.5 million from the foundation. He called Birchall “very nice” but admitted he didn’t know what kind of work he was doing for Musk.

Mohamed is confident that there must be strong chemistry between Birchall and Musk, given that Birchall has been working for the billionaire for over six years. “Without that kind of chemistry and cultural compatibility with your boss, you won’t last long,” says Mohamed. “I think Jared has something more than professional experience — and I’m pretty sure he does his job very well — but beyond that, they definitely share a common chemistry and values ​​with Elon Musk.”

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