Wired published an article recently giving a unique perspective into what it’s like to work under Tesla CEO Elon Musk from the point of view of a young Tesla engineer who suffered what one Tesla manager calls an “Elon rage firing.”
In an article titled “Dr. Elon & Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla’s Production Hell,” Wired takes a deep look into what it’s like to work under Elon Musk as a Tesla engineer. The piece follows the story of one young engineer hired by the electric car-manufacturer and his experience while working there. It discusses the period in which Tesla was in “production hell” as Musk called it, attempting to produce 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week.
Musk was spending the weekend in the Gigafactory, attempting to discover why machines weren’t functioning, why parts kept misaligning, why the software was crashing. Musk had demanded that his factories be automated as much as possible. But among the consequences of this extreme roboticization were delays and malfunctions. Tesla had spent more than $1 billion building the Gigafactory, and almost nothing was going as planned.
At about 10 o’clock on Saturday evening, an angry Musk was examining one of the production line’s mechanized modules, trying to figure out what was wrong, when the young, excited engineer was brought over to assist him.
It was then that the young engineer had his first interaction with Musk, whom he had never met before:
“Hey, buddy, this doesn’t work!” Musk shouted at the engineer, according to someone who heard the conversation. “Did you do this?”
The engineer was taken aback. He had never met Musk before. Musk didn’t even know the engineer’s name. The young man wasn’t certain what, exactly, Musk was asking him, or why he sounded so angry.
“You mean, program the robot?” the engineer said. “Or design that tool?”
“Did you fucking do this?” Musk asked him.
“I’m not sure what you’re referring to?” the engineer replied apologetically.
“You’re a fucking idiot!” Musk shouted back. “Get the fuck out and don’t come back!”
The young engineer climbed over a low safety barrier and walked away. He was bewildered by what had just happened. The entire conversation had lasted less than a minute. A few moments later, his manager came over to say that he had been fired on Musk’s orders, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The engineer was shocked. He’d been working so hard. He was set to get a review from his manager the next week, and had been hearing only positive things. Instead, two days later, he signed his separation papers.
Unfortunately, it appears as if Musk’s reaction towards the young engineer was not an isolated incident, random firings were apparently commonplace and many employees walked on eggshells, terrified of upsetting Musk:
Employees knew about such rampages. Sometimes Musk would terminate people; other times he would simply intimidate them. One manager had a name for these outbursts—Elon’s rage firings—and had forbidden subordinates from walking too close to Musk’s desk at the Gigafactory out of concern that a chance encounter, an unexpected question answered incorrectly, might endanger a career.
After Musk had patrolled the factory floor for a while, executives pulled him into a conference room. “I think we can fix this,” one of his top lieutenants, Jon McNeill, told him, according to someone who heard the conversation. McNeill tried to calm Musk down, and repeated a proverb he had once heard: No man comes up with a good idea when being chased by a tiger. At that moment, Musk was the tiger. (A spokesperson for McNeill said he did not want to participate in this story.)
Wired explained elements of their reporting to Tesla, giving them a chance to respond to allegations about the behavior of the company’s CEO, Tesla did indeed reply to the publication:
Tesla, which was given extensive summaries of the reporting in this article, including what took place during Musk’s Gigafactory visits and the engineer’s dismissal, said through a spokesperson that some aspects were “overly dramatized,” “abbreviated,” and “ultimately misleading anecdotes that completely lack essential context.” The company added that “Elon cares very deeply about the people who work at his companies. That is why, although it is painful, he sometimes takes the difficult step of firing people who are underperforming and putting the success of the entire company” at risk. Tesla also noted that Musk was worried about the comfort and safety of workers when he complained about the vapors in the Gigafactory.
Breitbart News has previously reported on Elon Musks’s outbursts and emotional reactions in the past, such as when he called the Thailand cave rescue hero Vern Unsworth a pedophile.
Read the full article by Wired here.