Elon Musk’s baby name isn’t just weird, it may be against California regulations
Elon Musk and singer Grimes announced their newborn son would be named X Æ A-12 Musk — but California regulations may put a stop to the name
Elon Musk and Grimes want to name their son X Æ A-12, but California regulations won't allow them. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
ByRachel Lerman
May 8, 2020
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.
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But California, where Musk lives, allows only 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.
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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. 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.
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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 had bought 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 bought a large parcel of land that included the only access road, prompting a lawsuit from the state.
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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.
X Æ A-12 Musk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 5, 2020
During the podcast interview, Musk gave Grimes credit for thinking up most of the name, but he 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.”
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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.
•X, the unknown variable ⚔️
•Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence)
•A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft). No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent 🤍
(A=Archangel, my favorite song)
(⚔️🐁 metal rat)
— 𝑪𝒍𝒂𝒊𝒓𝒆 𝒅𝒆 𝑳𝒖𝒏𝒆࿎ (@Grimezsz) May 6, 2020
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 12th letter of the alphabet.
Rachel Lerman covers breaking news in technology for The Washington Post.
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