Tesla CEO Elon Musk Warns of ‘Extensive’ Sabotage by Rogue Employee

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has warned staff that there might be a saboteur in their ranks responsible for a factory fire, changing code, and sending secrets outside the organization.

That’s according to an internal email sent from Musk, which was sent following an internal investigation into a recent fire at the paint shop at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory. The email warns employees of damage caused by a saboteur who, in addition to logging into Tesla’s proprietary manufacturing operating system and adding damaging code, seems to have exported vast amounts of sensitive data to unknown parties.

In the first email, Musk writes that he was dismayed to learn about a Tesla employee who had attacked the company on multiple fronts. He states: “This included making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames and exporting large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties.”

“The full extent of his actions are not yet clear, but what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad,” Musk said in his email. “His stated motivation is that he wanted a promotion that he did not receive. In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move.”

He added that the employee could have acted alone, with the help of others at Tesla, or with the biggest haters of all: Wall Street short-sellers and the petrochemical industry:

As you know, there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short-sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil & gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world—they don’t love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars. Don’t want to blow your mind, but rumor has it that those companies are sometimes not super nice. Then there are the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors. If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?

In a second email sent to employees, Musk hinted that a small fire on one the company’s product lines that delayed production for several hours may have been the result of sabotage as well. It “could just be a random event,” Musk said, but then quoted the title of the late former Intel CEO Andy Grove’s book, “Only the Paranoid Survive.”

Tesla has recently been under immense pressure to streamline production of the Model 3 sedan, which has experienced repeated delays over the last year. Musk told investors during Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting in early June that the company is on track to become profitable in the third quarter, but that likely will only happen if it is able to ramp up operations to produce 5,000 Model 3s per week, a target that its factory has missed in the past.

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