As usual, Elon Musk is making headlines. This time for an aborted takeover attempt of Twitter, which will soon lead him to court. If the billionaire therefore finds himself once again publicly in a minefield, the Wall Street Journal says that in the private sector too, his circle of trust has gone through a bad patch.
The conflict revolves around the billionaire’s fortune, and more particularly its part dedicated to charitable spending: the Musk Foundation. According to the Wall Street Journal, to make his decisions, the CEO of Tesla relies heavily on a small circle of collaborators and friends whose composition can vary according to his moods. In recent years, the arrival of a young poker player has created a rivalry worthy of the last season of Succession with Musk’s right-hand man, Jared Birchall.
Birchall, 48, is a wealth manager by trade. Cropped and clean-shaven, this former Eagle Scout (the highest Scouting honor in the United States) is a practicing Mormon who neither smokes nor drinks.
Introduced to Musk in 2016 while working for Morgan Stanley Bank, he quickly became one of his closest aides. He represents the billionaire on certain appointments, and on occasion, he gets his hands dirty for his boss.
Igor Kurganov, a 34-year-old German born in Russia, seems in every way opposed to the first. Long hair and a lanky figure, Kurganov was a professional poker player until 2019. In 2020, he befriended Musk, whom he met through their respective girlfriends, and was quickly able to weigh in on his business.
Poker and “altruism”
During his poker years, the German had launched an application intended to help players distribute their winnings to charities, inspired by a philosophy called “effective altruism”. This current believes that it can calculate the real effectiveness of a donation and thus determine the best means of carrying out its charitable expenditure.
Although his app never really caught on, Kurganov’s approach won over Musk, who gradually provided him with the keys to his fortune. According to emails seen by the Wall Street Journal, the NGO Explore Mars Inc., which works with the Musk Foundation, believed that“Igor makes day-to-day donation decisions”.
Also according to the Wall Street Journal, Kurganov even caught the attention of the branch of the FBI responsible for investigating foreign influences on American companies, which was taken aback by the speed with which his access to the cords of Elon Musk’s purse has gone up.
The American daily explains that Birchall, who is secretary and treasurer of the Musk Foundation, did not appreciate at all that a newcomer came to encroach on his flowerbeds. For several months, the two men have been at war to monopolize the favors of the billionaire.
Finally, it is the former scout, central during the negotiations for the takeover of Twitter, who would have finally won his case and succeeded in ousting his competitor. Until the next fad of the richest man in the world?