Even tech billionaires occasionally get tripped up by the rules. In the case of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, he may need to rethink the name of his new baby boy, X Æ A-12.
Musk announced Monday that he and his girlfriend, singer Grimes, had welcomed a baby son and given it a name that he broke down how to correctly pronounce during an interview with podcast host Joe Rogan this week. He identified the second character as “ash” - saying it was pronounced X-Ash-A-12.
But the state of California, where Musk lives, only allows the 26 English letters of the Alphabet to be used on birth certificates, along with a limited list of special characters including apostrophes, hyphens and periods. That means no numbers. Or Æ symbols.
It’s unclear if Musk will need to change the baby’s name or if the couple may have used a completely different name on the legal birth certificate. Already, Twitter is blowing up with theories on whether Musk is playing games by announcing the name.
Tesla and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
It’s not the first time a tech founder billionaire’s ability to think big and buck the rules has landed them in conflict with local, state and even federal regulations. In fact, it’s part of the culture of Silicon Valley to “move fast and break things,” an early Facebook motto that has become embedded in the way many start-ups and their founders think.
Apple visionary Steve Jobs avoided having a license plate on the back of his Mercedes, taking advantage of a now-closed loophole - but it required him to replace the car every six months. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg tried to secure exclusive rights to land he’d purchased in Hawaii, an expensive move prompting backlash from residents that forced him to backtrack. And Sun Microsystems co-founder and billionaire Vinod Khosla tried to close access to a popular California public beach after he purchased a large parcel of land which included the only access road, prompting a lawsuit from the state.
Musk himself has previously landed in hot water for his brash behavior. The Securities and Exchange Commission fined him and Tesla each $20 million after he tweeted that he could take his company private for $420 a share. And a British cave explorer sued for defamation after Musk referred to him as a “pedo guy” in a tweet, a lawsuit the tech billionaire ultimately won.
Recently, he has been pushing for an end to shelter-in-place orders during the coronavirus pandemic. Now he will bump up against California rules on names.
During the podcast interview, Musk gave Grimes credit for thinking up most of the name, but said the A-12 was his contribution, a nod to the Archangel-12 plane. The Lockheed A-12 was a precursor to the SR-71, which Musk called the “coolest plane ever.”
Grimes also gave an interpretation of the name on Twitter, writing that X is the “unknown variable,” Æ is her elven spelling meaning love or artificial intelligence, and A-12 is indeed the Archangel-12.
But the name has also prompted theories on Twitter, namely that the name is pronounced “Kyle.” The reasoning: X is the Greek letter Chi, which has a K sound, Æ makes an “ai” sound, and A-12 refers to L, or the twelfth letter of the alphabet.