Tesla Employee Accused of Sabotage

A Tesla employee is accused of hacking into the computer system and changing code that affected the manufacturing process of the Model 3 car. The company believes this is the reason for the production delays.

CEO Elon Musk sent an email to employees, explaining the situation and asking them to report anything that looks "suspicious." He also writes, "This can be done in your name, which will be kept confidential, or completely anonymously." Musk blames an employment dispute:

"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."

Musk gives other possible explanations for the deceit. He mentions short-sellers and members of the oil and gas industry who "don't love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars."

The employee, Martin Tripp, disputes the claim, saying he was a "whistle blower." According to Tripp, he merely sent a query to a database to confirm waste and safety issues he saw at the company. Tripp has worked for Tesla since 2007.

Meanwhile, an email exchange between Musk and Tripp has become public:

Tripp: “Don’t worry, you have what’s coming to you for the lies you have told to the public and investors.”

Musk: “Threatening me only makes it worse for you”

Tripp: “I never made a threat. I simply told you that you have what’s coming. Thank you for this gift!!!!”

Musk: “You should ashamed of yourself for framing other people. You’re a horrible human being.”

Tripp: “I NEVER ‘framed’ anyone else or even insinuated anyone else as being involved in my production of documents of your MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF WASTE, Safety concerns, lying to investors/the WORLD. Putting cars on the road with safety issues is being a horrible human being!”

Musk: “There are literally injuries[sic] with Model 3. It is by far the safest car in the world for any midsize vehicle. And of course a company with billions of dollars in product is going to have millions of dollars in scrap. This is not news.

“However, betraying your word of honor, breaking the deal you had when Tesla gave you a job and framing your colleagues are wrong and some come with legal penalties. So it goes. Be well.”

Image source.


  • I'm curious about the possibility of employees reporting anonymously when Musk gives an email address. How is this possible?
  • Have you been in a situation where you were unhappy with how you were treated by management? What resources were available to you?
  • Assess Musk's email to employees: the audience focus, organization, tone, and so forth. What works well, and what could be improved?
  • What's your view of the dispute between the company and the employee? With whom do you side, and why?