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The inside story of Elon Musk’s mass firings of Tesla Supercharger staff link

Some highlights I found interesting:

After Tinucci had cut between 15% and 20% of staffers two weeks earlier, part of much wider layoffs, they believed Musk would affirm plans for a massive charging-network expansion.

Musk, the employees said, was not pleased with Tinucci’s presentation and wanted more layoffs. When she balked, saying deeper cuts would undermine charging-business fundamentals, he responded by firing her and her entire 500-member team.

The departures have upended a network widely viewed as a signature Tesla achievement and a key driver of its EV sales.

Despite the mass firings, Musk has since posted on social media promising to continue expanding the network. But three former charging-team employees told Reuters they have been fielding calls from vendors, contractors and electric utilities, some of which had spent millions of dollars on equipment and infrastructure to help build out Tesla’s network.

Tesla’s energy team, which sells solar and battery-storage products for homes and businesses, was tasked with taking over Superchargers and calling some partners to close out ongoing charger-construction projects, said three of the former Tesla employees.

Tinucci was one of few high-ranking female Tesla executives. She recently started reporting directly to Musk, following the departure of battery-and-energy chief Drew Baglino, according to four former Supercharger-team staffers. They said Baglino had historically overseen the charging department without much involvement from Musk.

Two former Supercharger staffers called the $500 million expansion budget a significant reduction from what the team had planned for 2024 - but nonetheless a challenge requiring hundreds of employees.

Three of the former employees called the firings a major setback to U.S. charging expansion because of the relationships Tesla employees had built with suppliers and electric utilities.

Laconic ,

The Tesla energy team is notorious for being slow and ghosting customers for long periods of time. There’s no way they’re going to be able to handle this task.

hydroptic ,

Musk, the employees said, was not pleased with Tinucci’s presentation and wanted more layoffs. When she balked, saying deeper cuts would undermine charging-business fundamentals, he responded by firing her and her entire 500-member team.

The dude’s a petulant child. No wonder conservatives fawn over him.

bradorsomething ,

He’s Zorg from the 5th Element.

goferking0 ,

That’s an insult to zorg

renard_roux ,

Zorg ZF-1s fired!

Mycatiskai ,

Zorg did mass layoffs to hurt the economy but help himself and his bottom line. Musk will likely hurt his company since he fired a whole team that was overseeing construction, purchasing, real estate agreements. Now no one is left who knows what is going on.

itsonlygeorge ,

Stable genius at work.

anachronist ,

Spite and pettiness seem like a poor way to run a business but what do I know? I’m just a guy who’s gotten zero starships successfully to orbit.

coffeetest ,

Nazi scientist probably made some advances, but that doesn’t make it a good way to go.

Vodulas ,

Musk is also a guy who’s gotten zero starships into orbit. The engineers at Space X have, and to a certain extent Gwynne Shotwell is a part of that, but that is despite Musk, not because of him.

anachronist , (edited )

Yeah that was the joke. 🙃

Edit: Also none have made it to orbit or even near orbit. They initially claimed that the third one made it to the non-circularized suborbit they had planned, but later analysis was that it did not actually reach the planned velocity:

dgriffith ,

Mmm I’d take Common Sense Skeptic’s spaceX videos with about a ton of salt. They’ve got a real big bug up their ass about spaceX for some reason.

anachronist ,

Which part of the video is wrong? The fact is that it failed to reach planned velocity. This is public record. If it did not reach planned velocity then it did not reach the non-circualized suborbit that they intended. They were not “just a circulization away from orbit.”

The CSS channel was created when Musk and Shotwell were making bonkers claims about their Mars plans, as well as other crazy bullshit like the suborbital rocket airline stuff. The point of CSS is that none of their claims pencil out if you do even basic math, and they proved that by doing the math. They’ve also gone after other space grifters like orbital assembly.

ebc ,

Haven’t watched the video, but what do you think circularization is? If you’re “just a circulization away from orbit”, you are indeed going a bit slower than orbital velocity. There’s no point to going orbital velocity if your trajectory still brings you back inside the atmosphere. To get to orbit you want to raise your periapsis outside the atmosphere, and you do that by doing a burn at the apoapsis, which is what we commonly call “circularization”.

anachronist ,

The planned goal of the mission was to achieve orbital velocity but not orbital trajectory. This was because they had not yet demonstrated the ability of their vac engines to relight in space. If they go into a stable orbit but can’t relight they can not deorbit and they become space junk.

They initially claimed that this was a success (they achieved target velocity) but subsequent analysis was they were quite a bit off. Also because their engine relight test was failed/cancelled they will also not be allowed to attempt a stable orbit in IFT4. They have to demonstrate relight/deorbit capability before they will be allowed to attempt stable orbit.

Vodulas ,

Sorry, there are so many Musk stans that would say that exact thing, I 100% missed the joke

BCsven ,

He clearly misses that removing key people and staff, destroys tons of progress and tribal knowledge at the company. It takes a lot of money and effort to regain the momentum. However he does remind me of an old company owner I worked for that went from a start up in a saturated market to industry leader by being totally uncompromising in his decisions. He also left a wake of destruction, but the innovation was there because he would no stand for a no from somebody

belated_frog_pants ,

Musk doesn’t do anything but buy companies and interrupt their work with his baby shit. His only skill is having money.

All of his “he refuses to accept no!” Turns into “shoulda fucking listened to who told you no, idiot” in a matter or months or less.

He’s so stupid, but powerful because of money and the cult that keeps letting him have it.

Neato , avatar

FYI: EV makers adopted Tesla’s chargers a while ago. Fuck Musk. He strongarmed everyone and then threw it in the trash.…/tesla-charging-standard-sweeps-across-…

Vodulas ,

Fortunately the NACS has be standardized under the SAE as J3400, so companies should not have to rely on Tesla for development or implementation anymore.

JohnEdwa ,

NACS is just the standard CCS protocol shoved in the objectively better Tesla plug, and part of making it a standard is the requirement of opening the design for everyone to use. So while the plug is from Tesla, they actually were the ones that switched to the CCS protocol first and dropped their own proprietary system, which is how they were able to open the Supercharger network to other cars in the first place.

And that’s also why NACS is backwards compatible with all current EV chargers that already exist with a simple adapter - either by the driver, or by swapping the cable.

conditional_soup , (edited )

AFAICT, the charger network is a huge part of Tesla’s value proposition. Laying off the entire 500 person team like this is going to be a massive, massive disruption no matter what anyone says, you can’t just patch it with [checks notes] an entirely different team. It’s going to take that new team months to get up to date, put out fires, find their bearings, etc. and by that point, issues are already snowballing. The rapport and contacts problem is also going to be enormous; basically shit canning all of the company’s industry/logistics ambassadors is what, in any other light, would be called a disaster. This is going to be a clusterfuck, and that’s before any competitors interested in starting their own charger network start scooping these newly available specialists up.

It’s incredible to see this man still idolized, even by bosses and other execs, as he tanks not just one but two household name businesses AT THE SAME TIME.

UrLogicFails OP ,

At this point, I’ve lost count of the number of times Elon should have been let go. I recall him recently saying that dosing himself with cat tranquilizers was cool and a good business decision actually.

That’s not even getting into turning Twitter into a Nazi bar (and throwing out its extremely valuable branding) or pushing for the cybertruck that cuts its passengers, looks like a dumpster, and corrodes if you look at it funny.

The fact any board of directors considers this man employable at all is mind boggling to me.

tesseract ,

The fact any board of directors considers this man employable at all is mind boggling to me.

All recent events indicate that the board of directors are seriously manipulated by the chief executive and are not good at taking sane decisions. Musk companies, OpenAI and Theranos are good examples.

As I recall, there was a board meeting of Theranos where they summoned Elizabeth Holmes to fire her for misleading them about the state of development of the project. But she managed to get them to reverse that decision and then take action against the person that reported her.

UrLogicFails OP ,

When this news dropped a little while ago. I saw a lot of speculation that basically Elon got mad that a woman said he was wrong and laid off possibly Tesla’s biggest asset in a tantrum.

Honestly, at this point, the most surprising part of this situation is how unsurprised I am at that being exactly what happened.

Hopefully, this will not set back a widespread EV charging network (Tesla or otherwise) too much; but it definitely sounds like damage has been done.

CalcProgrammer1 , avatar

Hopefully this knocks down Tesla’s dominance in the charger ecosystem honestly, we need competition to take over that aren’t tied to a single vehicle manufacturer. Yes Tesla was going to open their network up to third party cars but they’re taking their sweet time in doing so. I hope competitors were able to swoop in and hire talent and take over broken contracts on abandoned charging station projects.

UrLogicFails OP ,

Honestly, that’s my main hope as well; that all the charging team talent will disperse across the market and help other chargers spread as well. The article mentioned Tesla having 60% of the fast charger market, so hopefully we will see other companies fill the gap.

My concern is that if no companies pick up the ball Tesla just dropped (or more accurately angrily chucked over the fence), that this could set the EV charging network back significantly; which would definitely be a problem for mass adoption of EVs.

conditional_soup ,

I’ve really been waiting for gas stations to jump in on this. Tying it to vehicle manufacturers just doesn’t make that much sense to me, not nearly as much sense as using the companies whose mission is already to deliver energy to vehicles. You need a tiny fraction of the infra for electric charging that you need to supply gas. Shell or Chevron could EASILY ink deals with, say, Starbucks, to put one or two chargers in every Starbucks parking lot in the country and just sit back and laugh as the money rolls in. And yet, they just keep pushing for exclusively fossil fuels.

CalcProgrammer1 , avatar

I would love to see gas stations putting in EV chargers, especially gas stations known for their food and snacks or travel stops that have restaurants because of the additional time taken to charge an EV vs. fill a gas car. Also it would be nice to see established companies run EV chargers that just let you pay with card at the “pump” like you do for gas rather than this app and account bullshit that all the mainstream networks have.

Nollij ,

You have to keep in mind the scenarios where it will be used. While truly fast charging does exist today (20 minutes or so for 80% charge), that is not widespread, nor is that the way it’s typically done. Level 3 (DC fast charging) is expensive (moreso than gas), potentially detrimental to the battery, and still usually not very fast (an hour at least). As such, you aren’t going to charge at your local gas station the same way you get a fill up today.

Most people use a level 2 charger, either at home or at work. This means it can sit for 8 hours to refuel. Many parking garages have this as well. Level 2 chargers deliver AC directly to the vehicle, meaning you don’t need a lot of infrastructure- just a 240v line and a billing system. This in turn means it’s cheap and relatively easy to install. Sometimes you’ll see these outside of Starbucks or a grocery store, but not especially often. You’ll get ~25 miles of range per hour charging using level 2. But even if you spend 2 hours drinking coffee, or buying groceries, you’ve only added 50 miles of range.

This is where level 3 comes in. It requires some pretty significant equipment (which is part of why they’re always broken), because it has to convert AC into high voltage DC. It also has to chill the cables internally, otherwise they’d quickly overheat from the electricity passing through. But this takes up space that’s probably not really available in the lot.

I am seeing fast chargers now being installed at travel centers/truck stops along major highways. It fits in nicely with regular stops on a road trip for food. I’m also seeing them being installed at most Walmarts, since that’s perfect for grocery shopping.

Around here, that last group has been from Electrify America, which does NOT require an app. They have a standard credit card reader.

Vodulas ,

Fortunately the NACS has be standardized under the SAE as J3400, so companies should not have to rely on Tesla for development or implementation anymore. Tesla’s network is going to suffer for sure though.

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