Think your boss is bad? Be grateful he's not Elon Musk.
I always thought he was weird and not a little scary. What's he done now? According to a Bloomberg scoop last week, Musk set out to brutally destroy a whistleblower at his Teslar "Gigafactory" in Nevada for revealing to Business Insider that the company had wasted up to $150m in raw materials and was pursuing unsafe production procedures. Sounds like normal business practices these days. What exactly did Musk do?You're right, the initial story wasn't a blockbuster - disgruntled employee Martin Tripp fails to get his bosses to address a messy work situation so he anonymously shares internal documents with the press in June last year. They denied it, the world turned. Let me guess. Musk did not move on. Bingo. He set two private eyes on Tripp, a 40 year old assembly line worker, and claimed he was working for Tesla’s many enemies - rival automakers or Wall Street short sellers. (Paranoid? Moi?) Tripp was interrogated for six hours, during which time his phone was apparently being tapped by the company, he admitted being the whistleblower and was fired. On June 20 2018, Musk sued him for $167 million.
Ok, that's quite an over reaction. Next?
This is where is gets weird. The very same day Tripp was tracked down to the Nugget Casino in Reno (you can't make this stuff up) by the cops who'd been tipped off by Tesla’s security department that an anonymous caller (wink, wink) had contacted them to say Tripp was planning a mass shooting. At the Gigafactory.
A mass shooting? That's pretty low. What happened to the hapless Tripp?
The police found him unarmed, terrified and in tears. Body cam footage shows him sobbing: “They keep saying I’m stealing data. I'm not that smart.” A sheriff’s deputy called Tony Dosen tried to cheer him up and then told Tesla that Tripp wouldn't hurt a fly and that the tip was bogus. “This is sort of strange,” Dosen told Tripp. “It’s almost like a movie.”
Poor Mr Tripp. I presume it gets even worse?
Shocked to find himself all over the press the next day, a furious Tripp emails Musk: “You have what’s coming to you for the lies you have told to the public and investors.” Musk fires back: “Threatening me only makes it worse for you,” later adding: “You should be ashamed of yourself for framing other people. You’re a horrible human being.” Tripp responds: “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.”
I love the detail. I presume Musk then took to Twitter to vent his fury?
Predictably. This time he took aim at the Business Insider reporter Linette Lopez who he claimed was on the payroll of short sellers and also paying Tripp for "valuable Telsa IP", which she denied.
Wasn't it a particularly bad summer for Musk on Twitter?
A meltdown. The following month he baselessly accused a British cave diver who saved that Thai football team of being a paedophile, and on August 7th, he posted: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured" which was untrue and prompted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to force Tesla to appoint a 'Twitter sitter' to vet Musk’s tweets. OMG I want to be a Twitter sitter. Maybe not Musk's. I digress - then what?
Unhappily for Musk, another whistleblower waded in (and another, but let's keep this tight), with worse tales of mayhem at the Gigafactory. According to former Tesla security manager Sean Gouthro, employees were using cocaine and meth in the bathrooms, having sex in half-built parts of the factory and thieves were trying to sell obscure electric vehicle parts to local scrap yards.
(And you thought your company was a shambles).
Cripes. What happened to Tripp in the end?
He fled to Hungary where his wife has family. “What Tesla did to Tripp is terrible,” said Tripp’s lawyer, Robert Mitchell, who’s countersuing, obvs. “His life is ruined. He’s scared of these guys.”
And yet Musk's success continues apace. If all those 'bathroom breaks' are true, just remind me never to buy a ticket on his SpaceX rocket.