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Elon Musk allegedly took extreme measures to destroy a whistleblower

By midian182 · 8 replies
Mar 14, 2019
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  1. The story begins back in June 2018, when Business Insider ran an article claiming Tesla was scrapping or reworking up to 40 percent of raw materials at its Nevada Gigafactory as it increased production of the Model 3 Sedan.

    According to a new Bloomberg report, Musk “stewed for weeks” over the leaked details, which the company denied, and dispatched investigators to discover who was behind them. Former Tesla security manager Sean Gouthro said the team—some of whom had been personally hired by Musk from Uber, where they faced allegations of spying on rivals—focused on employee Martin Tripp.

    Gouthro claims the investigators hacked Tripp’s phone, had him followed, and misled police about surveillance. He added that Musk knew Tripp didn’t sabotage Tesla or hack anything himself, but the CEO still wanted to ruin his reputation.

    Gouthro also claimed that “a Tesla investigator installed a device at the factory that monitored everyone’s private communications.”

    Tripp admitted to being the leaker, later saying it was over fears of cars being shipped with faulty and potentially dangerous batteries. He denied taking bribes from the reporter who wrote the piece—something Musk claimed on Twitter. Musk also implied that Tripp sent internal Tesla data to “unknown third parties.”

    Tripp was fired a few days later, and Tesla soon launched a $167 million lawsuit against him, alleging he “unlawfully hacked the company’s confidential and trade secret information.” On the same day, Tripp heard from the Sheriff’s department that an anonymous caller had contacted Tesla warning them that he was planning a mass shooting at the Gigafactory. Tripp believes Musk, who emailed the Guardian and told the publication about the call, might have been behind the tip. A deputy later told Tesla the threat was bogus.

    Tripp moved away from the US and now lives in Hungary to “avoid attention.”

    Gouthro made other shocking claims about Tesla. He said that to meet production demands of the Model 3, the Gigafactory had been filled with workers so quickly that it was almost impossible to control. Employees allegedly used cocaine and meth in the bathrooms and had sex in unfinished parts of the factory. He also says a company lawyer told him that the previous head of security at the Gigafactory spied on a union meeting on Musk’s orders.

    Tesla says Gouthro’s claims are “untrue and sensationalized,” and that he was fired for “poor performance, including repeated failure to demonstrate and understand best practices in the security industry.”

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,300   +3,707

    It just goes to show the JD needs to develop a guideline for protection of those that leaking information that is beneficial to society, meaning anyone that buys the products or is an employee of a public company. Whistle blower protections are weak, at best and could easily be expanded by having the individual register for protection.
    Musk is clearly someone that should be getting a lot more attention from the Justice Department and one can only wonder why they aren't doing their job?
  3. Vulcanproject

    Vulcanproject TS Evangelist Posts: 714   +1,006

    "He added that Musk knew Tripp didn’t sabotage Tesla or hack anything himself, but the CEO still wanted to ruin his reputation."

    This is the nasty thing. These leaks were not really highlighting serious safety concerns or worker mistreatment, but they were probably considered confidential information because it doesn't help the image of the company.

    I understand major companies that face extreme press scrutiny like Tesla wanting to protect what they do. If they allow endless petty leaks it could destroy them as a business.

    It's enough to find the leaker and fire them. Anything else is outrageous, extreme harassment is unacceptable.

    On the other hand the person that reveals this story could indeed just be a disgruntled employee. More evidence would have to emerge to back up these claims.
  4. Deny Grinchman

    Deny Grinchman TS Rookie

    I wouldn't be surprised to find out that "big Three" is involved to kill Teslas plant, just like they did with various smaller auto manufacturing companies for past 100 years.
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,872   +2,205

    IMO, anyone that expected anything else of Musk is living a life of alternative facts.

    His behavior, not only in this matter, but in most other matters, IMO, is typical of a narcissist.

    Musk needs a good stint of being disciplined in a wood shed, if you ask me.
    JaredTheDragon and xxLCxx like this.
  6. KG363

    KG363 TS Guru Posts: 523   +15

    Sounds like a leaker, not a whistleblower. Those are two completely separate things. A whistleblower, accusing a company of wrongdoing, should be protected. A leaker should absolutely be fired.
    brucek and Godel like this.
  7. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,872   +2,205

    What else would they say even if this were true? Yes, we did all that stuff but we stopped it now? I highly doubt it. No company would admit anything even remotely like this since that would open them up to some serious lawsuits.

    Besides, I highly doubt that Musk is able to man up to his own faults.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  8. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,000   +1,177

    Tripp, even if he intended to be a whistle blower, did it in a manner that appears to be more leaker than not. If you worked at Tesla and had 'fears of cars being shipped with faulty and potentially dangerous batteries', wouldn't you contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration instead of the media? Tripp is a trained tech well versed in how industry works (um, or is he?).

    Gouthro, as Security Manager, would seem to be on top of any 'nefarious activity' if he was 'on the job'...[what does a Security Manager do when he discovers drug use or felonious hacking - contact a newspaper??]... so why raise the issue of drug use if he were handling it properly? Combined with his other declarations, like employee sex - if not against company policy during work hours - what is the issue?? is there a local law against it? OR like the hearsay allegations (somebody told him that somebody else did something) - 'spying on a union meeting' may only be 'security' if it takes place on the employer's property - depends on what/where/when/who - and is very well defined by labor law - I begin to wonder what Gouthro has as a personal agenda.

    Do I think a wealthy, powerful egoist could throw his weight around? or do potentially illegal stuff - sure do, we seem to have one in the White House. Is it wrong? The FBI and the Judicial Branch can take care of that.

    Waiting on developments.
  9. Jeneli

    Jeneli TS Rookie

    I have nothing to say about other parts of the article, but this part : "Employees allegedly used cocaine and meth in the bathrooms and had sex in unfinished parts of the factory."

    Could really be something like 2 or 3 people doing those things getting overblown into something that sounds like it was widespread. You know, telephone game. This sentence makes it sound like it was some sort of orgy crackhouse or something which is doubtful.

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