Tesla CEO Elon Musk said a Tesla employee has engaged in sabotage against the company, CNBC reports.
In an email obtained by the publication, which Musk sent on Sunday night, Musk said the employee had changed parts of the company's manufacturing operating system code and sent "highly sensitive" company data to outside parties.
Musk reportedly said the saboteur's actions were motivated by his desire for a promotion he didn't receive. It has not been determined if the employee acted alone or with other parties, Musk reportedly said.
Musk reportedly implied that companies and people who don't want Tesla to succeed — like short-sellers, oil and gas companies, and competing automakers — could potentially seek to harm the company.
"Don't want to blow your mind, but rumor has it that those companies are sometimes not super nice," he reportedly said. "If they're willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they're willing to cheat in other ways?"
Tesla declined a request for comment on the email.
A small fire at the Fremont, California, factory where Tesla makes its cars shut the factory down for several hours on Sunday, CNBC first reported.
According to an email the publication obtained, which Musk sent on Monday, the fire stopped production for several hours and it occurred on a part of the production line where a car's body has been assembled, but paint has not been added. No one was injured and no equipment received serious damage, Musk said.
Musk asked employees to be aware of "anything that's not in the best interests of our company," and quoted former Intel CEO Andy Grove.
"Only the paranoid survive," Musk said.
A Tesla representative confirmed the incident and the email to Business Insider.
"Last night, there was smoldering in an air filter in the welding area of the body line. The smoldering was extinguished in a matter of seconds. There were no injuries or significant equipment damage, and production is back online," the representative said.
Tesla has struggled to ramp up production for its Model 3 sedan since its launch in July. The company has repeatedly missed production goals for the vehicle, but during Tesla's annual shareholder meeting on June 5, Musk said the company was on track to hit its goal of making 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the month.
On Friday, Musk said in an email to employees that the factory was capable of making 500 Model 3s per day and that some parts of the production line could make around 700 Model 3s per day, but said "radical improvements" were needed in parts of the production line.
In a blog post, Tesla denied the allegations in the report, calling it "a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here" and "an ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla."
Two days after the investigative report was published, California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health confirmed it was investigating workplace conditions for Tesla employees.
You can read the full email Musk reportedly sent to Tesla employees on Sunday night below.
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 email@example.com 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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