Skip to Content

Elon Musk Claims Employee Sabotage at Tesla in Midnight Memo

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent an email at 11:57 p.m. on Sunday to his employees alleging an employee “had conducted extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations,” according to CNBC, which obtained a copy of the memo.

In the memo, Musk wrote that the employee fabricated user names to change the software code for the company’s Tesla Manufacturing Operating System, a term that Tesla hasn’t used in public, but appears to describe the in-house system that ties together its manufacturing operations. Musk said that the employee admitted to committing sabotage after not receiving a promotion.

It’s unclear whether Tesla has referred the matter to law enforcement.

Sunday’s memo was followed Monday morning by Musk alerting staff to a fire a day earlier in what he referred to as the “body-in-white production line.” Musk insinuated the potential for sabotage there as well, calling it a “strange” incident while no one was in the area, and which halted production for several hours. He advised employees to keep alert.

Musk regularly asserts that an array of companies and individuals want Tesla to fail, which is likely the case. However, he often couples that with expansive statements, such as in the sabotage memo, in which he mentions oil and gas companies, and gasoline- and diesel-powered car manufacturers as opponents who are “sometimes not super nice” and “maybe…willing to cheat in other ways” than on emissions tests.

In the memo, Musk offered no evidence nor implied such about outside involvement, but did note, “We need to figure out if he was acting alone or with others at Tesla and if he was working with any outside organizations.”

In various statements in public and recently to Tesla employees, Musk has said that he routinely lives around the clock at the manufacturing plant while the company tries to increase production of the Tesla Model 3, a mass-market sedan that currently starts at $44,000. Many financial and auto analysts say the model will make or break the company. The target production level is 5,000 per week, which, if reached in the near future, would provide enough cash flow to keep Tesla a going concern. Bloomberg News estimates that current production levels are just above 1,700 cars weekly.

A Telsa spokesperson told Fortune the company has no comment.