Elon Musk Wields Veto Power over Every New Employee as Tesla Layoffs Mount

Journalist:
March 13, 2019

Billionaire Elon Musk must personally approve every single employee that gets hired at Tesla. The electric-car company has also raised its hiring standards amid several recent rounds of layoffs.

“All headcount requests from the business must get Elon approval,” according to a February 2019 internal email. “Evidence of this sign-off is required.”

The email added:

“We will be instituting a more rigorous process around requisitions and offers to help manage headcount across the business.”

Tesla Workforce Shrinks to 40,000

Tesla currently has 40,000 full-time employees after it laid off 7% of its workforce in January 2019. Before that, Tesla instituted two previous rounds of layoffs in 2018 in an effort to cut costs and make the company profitable.

All this corporate restructuring is happening against the backdrop of internal turmoil that has been roiling Tesla for a couple of years.

Elon Musk Slapped With Shareholder Lawsuit

As CCN reported, Tesla shareholders filed a lawsuit last week against Elon Musk and Tesla’s entire board of directors. The lawsuit claims Musk’s “unchecked misstatements” on Twitter have hurt the company and could expose it to legal liability.

In their March 8 lawsuit, a pension fund called the Laborers District Council & Contractors Pension Fund of Ohio accused Musk of repeatedly posting flippant tweets without regard for how they might affect Tesla’s stock price.

The plaintiffs also allege that Tesla’s 11-member board of directors (of which Musk was chairman until September 2018) breached their fiduciary duty to shareholders by “failing to rein in” Musk when he tweets about Tesla’s business operations.

“Elon Musk has continually disregarded all efforts to rein in his material misstatements on social media.”

“His conduct has not only cost Tesla shareholders dearly, but threatens to expose the company to even greater liability and litigation in the future…The Board of Directors has been completely ineffective.”

Musk: SEC Filed Contempt Motion as Petty Revenge

Musk has not responded to the shareholder lawsuit, but he did fire back at an SEC contempt motion filed in February 2019. Specifically, Musk says he cannot be held in contempt because he did nothing wrong.

Moreover, his lawyers say the Securities and Exchange merely filed the contempt motion as petty retaliation because Musk said: “I do not respect the SEC” during a December 2018 interview (video below).

“This contempt action, following Musk’s sincerely-held criticism of the SEC on ’60 Minutes’, also reflects concerning and unprecedented overreach on the part of the SEC.”

Tesla Roiled by Calls for Elon Musk’s Removal as CEO

The shareholder lawsuit and the SEC’s contempt motion spotlight the increasing pressure Elon Musk is facing amid internal power struggles to unseat him as Tesla’s CEO.

Two weeks ago, CNBC analyst Jim Cramer trashed Musk for daring to criticize the SEC, saying Musk should be fired.

“This guy’s going to attack the SEC? How about removing him? The guy just attacks the SEC as if it’s funny. So I think he should be removed.”

Cramer then joked that Musk should be required to have something on his cell phone that prevents him from drunk-tweeting, so he doesn’t get into trouble for errant tweets.

Meanwhile, this is how Musk is reacting on Twitter to all the fuss surrounding his tweets.

Last modified (UTC): March 13, 2019 09:25

Samantha Chang @Samantha_Chang

Samantha Chang is a New York City-based financial editor who writes about crypto and business at . She is a law school grad and an alum of the University of Pennsylvania. You can reach her on Twitter at Samantha Chang or email her at schang121@juno.com.