Tesla CEO Elon Musk emailed his entire company just last night saying that an employee had been caught conducting “damaging sabotage to our operations.” 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, 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.”
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 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 nine percent of the company. Factory employees weren’t impacted, though hundreds were let go last year, supposedly for performance reasons.
In the 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.