10 Things You Should Have Seen in Elon Musk’s Stunning Companywide Emails (Including Sunday’s ‘Big Sabotage’ Email)
In between tweets, Elon Musk is emailing his entire company warning of saboteurs in their midst. (Other than that Elon, how was your Sunday?)
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Here are 10 especially head-shaking things to take away from them.
1. He's working all the time.
There are actually two "sabotage emails" in the last little while, but we'll focus on the first one--the bigger one--to begin with. The first thing to notice: the time at which it was sent, apparently Sunday evening at 11:57 p.m.
2. He's surprisingly calm in the face of insane news.
In the Big Sabotage email, Musk says he's learned that a Tesla employee "conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations ... [including] making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System."
His response? He says he's "dismayed to learn" of it. Doesn't "dismayed" seem like a very mild word in this situation?
3. He's on his phone constantly.
Let's just point out that during the weekend that Musk says he learned about somebody trying to sabotage his company during one of its most important periods ever, he still managed to spend a lot of time on Twitter.
My favorite Musk tweet this Sunday: this one, with the "misheard lyrics" of the old Soviet national anthem.
4. He suggests he's handling things internally.
Let's go back to the Big Sabotage email itself. There's no mention of the FBI being brought in, or law enforcement or anything in this company-wide email about sabotage at a publicly traded company. Just weird.
"[T]he investigation will continue in depth this week," he writes. "We need to figure out if he was acting alone or with others at Tesla and if he was working with any outside organizations."
5. He's strangely proud of his hiring and promotion decisions.
Musk says the Big Saboteur was motivated because he wasn't promoted within the company, and adds that "[i]n light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move."
That's true of course, but it's kind of an obvious-slash-weird point. It's like someone saying, "In retrospect, not marrying that guy who turned out to be an axe murderer was the right choice."
6. He embraces paranoia.
Granted, if there's ever a good time to be paranoid in business, I suspect that "when you're facing your most important challenge and you think you've found a saboteur" might be it.
Still, Musk's language is striking: "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 ..." It goes on.
7. How much of this is just to motivate people?
It all comes in the context of Tesla's most important production ramp-up ever, a point Musk understandably makes very clear.
"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. ... Looking forward to having a great week with you as we charge up the super exciting ramp to 5000 Model 3 cars per week!"
8. And, he's back at it hours later.
Barely 10 hours later: a new email, same subject line: "Some concerning news."
9. He's really worried about sabotage.
"Late last night we had another strange incident that was hard to explain," Musk writes. "Small fire on the body-in-white production line."
It makes you wonder--do strange, unexplained things like this happen all the time in major manufacturing processes? Is the strange thing here the event, or the fact that Musk immediately tells the entire company about it.
10. He embraces paranoia again.
This time he uses the word himself: "Could just be a random event, but as Andy Grove said, "Only the paranoid survive."