Tesla warns employees of 'potential consequences' if they leak secrets to 'people who will do anything to see us fail'

  • Tesla emailed employees warning them of ramifications for violating their confidentiality agreements, according to company emails obtained by CNBC.
  • In the letter to employees, Tesla cited “an intense amount of public interest” in the company and “people who will do anything to see us fail.”
  • Tesla included several examples of “inappropriate conduct and the potential consequences” in case employees were “unsure about what constitutes unacceptable behaviour.”
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Tesla emailed employees warning them of ramifications for violating their confidentiality agreements, according to company emails obtained by CNBC.

In the letter to employees, Tesla cited “an intense amount of public interest” in the company, and “people who will do anything to see us fail.”

The company also warned that some of these people, ostensibly journalists, would be “targeting” employees through their social media accounts. Tesla advised that if employees were asked for information through social media they should forward the requests to a security team.

“These solicitations are not only potentially damaging to our company, they can also be illegal, putting you and your colleagues/friends at risk for termination or even the possibility of criminal charges,” the letter reportedly said.

Tesla included several examples of “inappropriate conduct and the potential consequences” for employees who may be “unsure about what constitutes unacceptable behaviour,” according to CNBC:

  • “This month, an employee posted the dial-in information of an internal meeting on social media. This employee was identified and terminated the following day.
  • “A felony charge was filed last month against a former employee who exfiltrated confidential business information from the Tesla domain to his personal account and threatened to disclose confidential company information.
  • “A former employee uploaded Tesla intellectual property to a personal iCloud account and left the company for a competitor. Tesla filed a lawsuit and is suing him for stealing trade secrets.
  • “Tesla filed a lawsuit against former employees and a competitor for stealing proprietary information and trade secrets to help the competitor leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.
  • “In January an employee was identified for sharing confidential business information on Twitter, including production numbers, with journalists. The employee was terminated for violating their [nondisclosure agreement] and Tesla’s Communications policy.”

Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have found themselves in unflattering news reports in recent months, as Business Insider’s Linette Lopez pointed out.


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Musk, a prolific tweeter, was also embroiled in controversy after he allegedly “falsely indicated” that funding to take Tesla private at $US420 “was secured” in a tweet.

Musk’s tweets have caught the attention of the Security and Exchange Commission, which ordered him to stop making material statements regarding Tesla. Musk was fined $US20 million and was required to step down as chairman of Tesla’s board of directors for three years.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

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