Sabotage at Tesla

(First one who says "Musk cries conspiracy, hehe" gets a free drink of their choice. Virtually.)

As published by CNBC:

From: Elon Musk

To: Everybody

Subject: Some concerning news

June 17, 2018

11:57 p.m.

I was dismayed to learn this weekend about a Tesla employee who had conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations. 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. 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.

However, there may be considerably more to this situation than meets the eye, so the investigation will continue in depth this week. We need to figure out if he was acting alone or with others at Tesla and if he was working with any outside organizations.

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?

Most of the time, when there is theft of goods, leaking of confidential information, dereliction of duty or outright sabotage, the reason really is something simple like wanting to get back at someone within the company or at the company as a whole. Occasionally, it is much more serious.

Please be extremely vigilant, particularly over the next few weeks as we ramp up the production rate to 5k/week. This is when outside forces have the strongest motivation to stop us.

If you know of, see or suspect anything suspicious, please send a note to with as much info as possible. This can be done in your name, which will be kept confidential, or completely anonymously.

Looking forward to having a great week with you as we charge up the super exciting ramp to 5000 Model 3 cars per week!

Will follow this up with emails every few days describing the progress and challenges of the Model 3 ramp.

Thanks for working so hard to make Tesla successful,
Elon"

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You can see it as a paranoid conspiracy related reaction but it would not be very surprising for the technology leader in the EV industry to be targeted by economic intelligence.

Billions of dollars are at stake in the EV industry and competition could sometimes turn dirty.

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A wise man once wrote that "Wizards are not paranoid. They know someone is out to get them." Not saying that Musk is a wizard but there's bound to be plenty of rational reasons to be careful in Tesla's industry and not just there. Industrial espionage is not just a phrase, after all.

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There is a huge difference between "industrial espionage" and "industrial sabotage."  And yes, sometimes one leads to the other. 

The reality is that today everything and everyone runs on desktops or laptops to store industrial data, and that includes fixing formulas, layup times, costing sheets, materials price comparisons and sources, customer lists and contacts, literally everything and anything.  For an inside employee to make a copy, either by burning a CD or by doing some download over a portion with a thumb drive or the whole thing with a remote hard disc drive, is so easy that, as a practical matter, you have to assume that your "trusted staff" can and will do that.  If you don't like it, then go back to pencil and paper for everything and keep nothing on computing machinery. 

But the real issue is:  what can that employee really do with it?  Purchasing the stuff is a Federal crime, so no big corporation is going to touch it.  Nobody is going to go to jail just to get a leg up on what somebody else is doing. Will a smaller corporation buy it?  Probably not; cash is a scarce resource and better put to work in capital goods.  So, what is our boy going to accomplish?  If he shows up at your door with that CD, then would you hire him - knowing that he is going to pull the same stunt on you?  

Will employees do it anyway?  Of course they will.  Everybody you meet says they are not paid enough.  I once asked a manager (not of mine; he was with someone else) who was grousing about being underpaid, "OK, Sam, but has it ever occurred to you that you might be overpaid?"  Well, that created quite the silent pause.  No, he had not thought of that. 

Who is really going to hire this Elon Musk guy and his stolen data CDs?  Will GM? Nope.  ExxonMobil? Nope.  How about Volkswagen?  Oops, they already have enough problems.  The reality is that eveybody already knows or can assume and extrapolate all they want to know about Mr. Musk and everybody knows that he is utterly bankrupt in any cognizable accounting sense.  So, what do you want to go duplicate?  Another failed car company idea?  And pay some unreliable employee for that? 

Elon Musk is headed the way of the England-France ChannelTunnel Corporation:  into the bankruptcy courts, for a "rinse and dry."  It will come soon enough. 

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