Tesla Staff Were Reportedly Told Not to Walk Past Elon Musk's Desk Because of His Wild Firing Rampages

Wired's deep dive on Tesla reports that the Tesla CEO had a habit of going on firing sprees.
Tesla Staff Were Reportedly Told Not to Walk Past Elon Musk's Desk Because of His Wild Firing Rampages
Image credit: Joshua Lott | Getty Images
3 min read
This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Elon Musk was so prone to firing sprees that Tesla employees were told not to walk past his desk in case it jeopardized their career, according to an explosive in-depth Wired article.

Over six months, journalist Charles Duhigg spoke to numerous Tesla engineers, executives, and other employees about what it's like to work at Tesla.

One Gigafactory manager told Wired that he stopped employees from walking too close to Musk's desk for fear that a word out of place might end up in them getting fired. The manager called the outbursts "Elon's rage firings."

A former high-ranking executive said Musk would occasionally say "I've got to fire someone today," and when the executive said he didn't, Musk would reply, "No, no, I just do. I've got to fire somebody."

"Everyone came to work each day wondering if that was going to be their last day," a third source added.

When contacted by Wired, a Tesla spokesperson disputed this, but said that Musk makes "difficult but necessary decisions."

In one instance, Wired reports that Musk once fired a young engineer whose name he didn't know for reasons he didn't explain.

Read moreTesla is suing former employee Martin Tripp for more than $167 million

A source who heard the conversation told Wired that one evening at 10 p.m., Musk called the engineer over and pointed at a machine saying, "Hey, buddy, this doesn't work," and asked if the engineer was responsible.

Confused, the engineer asked for Musk to explain what he meant. "Did you fucking do this?" Musk asked again, and when the engineer said he wasn't sure what Musk was referring to, Musk called him a "fucking idiot" and told him: "Get the fuck out and don't come back!"

"The idiot bit"

As well as firings, many described frequent outbursts where Musk would shout at people and call them "idiots." A senior engineering executive said employees even had a name for his behavior, calling it "the idiot bit."

"If you said something wrong or made one mistake or rubbed him the wrong way, he would decide you're an idiot and there was nothing that could change his mind," they said.

In a statement to Wired, a Tesla spokesperson said: "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]."

Business Insider contacted Tesla for comment.

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