Elon Musk emailed all of Tesla about attempted ‘sabotage’ by an employee

Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk emailed his entire company just before midnight last night saying that an employee had been caught conducting “damaging sabotage to our operations,” according to CNBC, which obtained the email. The employee was allegedly found to have made “direct code changes” to Tesla’s manufacturing system and sent “large amounts of highly sensitive” data to third parties.

The employee has already been questioned by Tesla, and Musk says it’s continuing to investigate whether the employee was working with others. In his email, Musk questioned whether “Wall Street short-sellers,” “oil & gas companies,” or “the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors” may have been involved. “If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?” he wrote.

Musk says the employee claims to have taken action because he didn’t receive a promotion. “In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move,” Musk wrote.

This morning, Musk emailed the entire company again, according to CNBC, to alert them to “another strange incident”: a “small fire” on a production line. There were no injuries, but it stopped production for several hours, according to the email. “Could just be a random event, but as [former Intel CEO] Andy Grove said, ‘Only the paranoid survive,’” the email reads. “Please be on the alert for anything that’s not in the best interests of our company.” CNBC previously reported that the factory’s paint shop has seen at least four fires in the past four years.

Tesla is under a lot of pressure right now to ramp up production on the Model 3, which launched last summer. The company was supposed to be making 5,000 per week by the end of 2017, but it missed that goal by a large margin. It then missed another target, 2,500 per week, in April. Tesla was making 3,500 per week as of June 5th and said it expected to hit 5,000 by the end of the month. Until Tesla hits that point, the company has said it will lose money on every car it makes.

Last week, Tesla announced a “restructuring” that led to more than 3,000 layoffs, or about 9 percent of the company. Factory employees weren’t impacted, though hundreds were let go last year, supposedly for performance reasons.

In his Sunday night email, Musk asked employees to remain “extremely vigilant” over the next few weeks as production ramps up on the Model 3. “This is when outside forces have the strongest motivation to stop us,” he wrote.


Musk says the employee claims to have taken action because he didn’t receive a promotion.

Absolutely ridiculous. He deserves to be blackballed at best, and get hit with a corporate crime at worse.

He’s gone off the deep end.

yeah, to do espionage on an American company that is bringing manufacturing back to the USA (not just assembly like the others) is insane! I agree.

Did you even read the article? It’s a pretty standard all hands memo when some shit goes down.

Why would Musk need to take a vacation for sending out internal communications?

In his email, Musk questioned whether "Wall Street short-sellers," "oil & gas companies," or "the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors" may have been involved. "If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?" he wrote.

While out of context, this sounds like some nonsense paranoia.

Not really, slanderous statements against Musk and his companies have been increasingly common from people in influential positions. Don’t underestimate the greed of Wall Street and big oil, there is literally billions of dollars on the line.

What "slander"?

An opinion you don’t agree with isn’t "slander". Sheesh.

Remember Mit Romney, Top Gear, and LA Times, New York Times, Jim Cramer, Bob Lutz…

"Oh no they don’t want to pay us car dealership networkss exorbitant fees to sell their cars instead they want to sell them themselves they must hate America and all Americans everyone boycott Tesla before their greed splits the country at the foundations ! ! !"

Tesla has gotten some stupid "criticism" over the years, I’d say at least some of it is definitely slander


Here’s a slander: "If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?"

LOL Don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

Seems like you’re out of touch with reality, to me.

Why is it so out there that oil related industries are trying to sabotage competitors?

Right? It’s the one thing you expect them to do. We already know they fund anti climate change research and pressure research funds away from anything that hurts their bottom line.

The oil industry loves Tesla. The heavy industry required to mine and develop battery tech uses far more fossil fuels than Tesla’s have saved; it takes nearly 30 gallons of diesel to produce an ounce of gold and other rare earth metals.

We know big oil will always do the right thing. Just look at BP.


Yeah, I really don’t understand this notion that big oil or big auto doing something super shady to a popular car company that is disrupting their billion dollar industries is somehow far fetched or implausible.

Corporate or industrial sabatoge of a company threatening to disrupt several industries and cost companies and billionaires in those industries billions to trillions of dollars going forward doesn’t seem that far fetched.

tesla isn’t really disrupting anything on a global scale: they’re way behind schedule with their production (and losing money) and they will never have the actual capacity to contend with traditional automakers.

tesla had the huge merit of making electric cars glamorous and taking them to the mainstream but all the other automakers are now catching up with e-cars and plugin hybrids. the same goes with their autopilot feature.

truth be told i’d say that other automakers, from some points of view, benefit from Tesla’s advancements: the car market has been lacking actual innovation for quite some time and there was no real incentive for people to buy new cars.
Now there is.

yes and we’re constantly reminded of their failures, of their CEO’s eccentricities, of their embarrassments and missteps…

I wonder why…

Because they have a lot of failures, and their CEO is weird and eccentric. Ford’s CEO is flat boring, uninteresting, which is why we never hear about them. Ford’s production line is solid, which is why we never hear about it.

I’d love to see Tesla succeed (provided they can fix their safety problems in the factory and stop being anti-Union) but the problems are real.

Uh, I can’t name one CEO in the auto industry outside of Musk. You cannot talk about Musk without factoring in how he’s gotten constant press and headlines for years. When’s the last time Ford’s CEO had a tweet get articles written about it?

"tesla isn’t really disrupting anything"
"tesla.. made electric cars glamorous and (took) them to the mainstream"

Which is it?

Making electric cars mainstream (even if ultimately Tesla only gets a small piece of the electric car pie) definitely hurt big oil profits. Not to mention the battery tech that allows us to move to renewable energy.

you forgot to quote "on a global scale".

what i meant is that i don’t think tesla is an actual competitor for other automakers. Even thought the gap is narrowing Tesla is definitely leading the way in technical innovation but they don’t (and won’t in the foreseeable future) have the capacity to reap the real benefits.

as for "big oil" i think they have come to terms with the fact that the tide is changing. this doesn’t mean that they will quit lobbying but i doubt they would resort to clumsy sabotage attempts: now that customers are starting to have an alternative (and especially after dieselgate) they need to care about their public image.

Because there’s no evidence of that. Making bold claims like that without evidence is paranoia.

Yeah, I’m sure the malicious intent of the employee was all off their own backs. That seems unlikely to me.

I’m guessing you have never dealt with a disgruntled employee. Or have had to terminate someone for poor performance when they think they are the best employee in the company.

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