The Musk meltdown show must go on.
Tesla's embattled and increasingly erratic CEO Elon Musk may have been involved in a physical confrontation with an employee who had handed in his resignation last September, according to Bloomberg. The incident occurred when the employee, who had resigned, returned to work to say goodbye to his colleagues.
After word had spread that the employee had resigned, Musk accosted the worker, swearing at him and telling him to leave immediately, according to the report. Musk also reportedly made physical contact with the employee in a "heated confrontation that drew the attention of other employees" before spilling out into the hallway and later the parking lot.
The departing worker, described by his peers as "one of the best problem solvers and a great business mind" (which may explain why Musk felt... challenged) reportedly went to get his backpack prior to leaving, but Musk physically blocked him, telling him to just "get the fuck out". Musk then confronted him outside, telling the employee "I will nuke you!" if he harmed Tesla. Some speculated that the warning was meant to keep the employee quiet about what had taken place that day.
The departing employee told people that Musk had pushed him, while others described it as a tap or a light touch. Either way, the Board of Directors got involved and reviewed the matter, compiling accounts from witnesses. In the end, the board concluded that there - surprise - was "no physical altercation". They did not address the allegations of verbal abuse.
The worker involved in the incident did not comment for the story, who did not name him or others involved, for fear of retribution from the company. The event reportedly took place at Tesla’s headquarters in Fremont during September of last year, which was a period Musk had referred to as "delivery logistics hell".
Word of the incident, which was witnessed by several people, has traveled among current and former Tesla employees, several of whom say they remain afraid of their former boss. While the September incident is an extreme example, it reflects a description of Musk that is notorious among both current staff and the growing diaspora of Tesla alumni: an inspiring but sometimes volatile leader, often driving employees to a breaking point.
To be sure, this wasn't the first meltdown Musk allegedly suffered during a termination. Earlier in September, Musk confronted another employee, and started yelling at him in front of customers. Another manager, a former army veteran, stepped in to defend the now visibly shaken employee, according to a person familiar with the matter. Musk later announced that the employee had been fired on an internal call attended by dozens of Tesla employees. The company had yet to alert the employee himself of his termination.
As part of its reporting, Bloomberg contacted the board whose job it ultimately is to tame the CEO, which made the following statement:
“It is the board’s responsibility to take seriously any potential issues that come to our attention involving senior executives, no matter how small or how large. In this instance we conducted a thorough review, which proved that there was never a physical altercation, a fact confirmed by multiple people who were present at the time.”
The company said an a statement: “Elon did exit an employee at our Fremont delivery center last year due to concerns about his performance, however there was no physical altercation whatsoever. Those reports are simply untrue as confirmed by numerous people that observed the incident first-hand.”
The report noted that it was not clear who led the investigation on behalf of Tesla's board, but Twitter seems to have a good guess: