Reassigned Tesla Employee Hacks Into Company Operating System In Anger, But Claims He Is A Whistleblower

Records show that ex-technician Marty Tripp sent an angry missive to Elon Musk afterward stating, "Don't worry, you have what's coming to you."

Elon Musk and Tesla have filed a lawsuit against whistleblower Marty Tripp.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Records show that ex-technician Marty Tripp sent an angry missive to Elon Musk afterward stating, "Don't worry, you have what's coming to you."

Tesla is currently embroiled in drama as the result of a lawsuit that was filed against ex-employee Marty Tripp, a former technician at the company’s Gigafactory plant in Nevada, who hacked into Tesla’s operating system and stole “confidential and trade secret information” which he then handed to third parties.

While Tripp is claiming that he is merely a whistleblower who is acting against what he perceived to be potentially dangerous business practices, many are actively doubting this claim. Instead of reporting the “really scary things” he claimed to have seen to the appropriate agencies and regulators and hiring a lawyer to represent him, the technician chose to vent his anger in an e-mail to Tesla CEO Elon Musk instead, telling him that he deserved everything he got, as Jalopnik report.

After the Washington Post published a piece on Marty Tripp’s accusations, reporter Drew Harwell mentioned in a tweet that Tripp felt attacked by Musk, who called him a horrible person, and that this set off a flurry of angry e-mail exchanges between the two men.

However, e-mails show that in actuality it was really the former technician who set things in motion after firing off the first missive at 8:57 a.m. on June 20, telling Elon Musk, “Don’t worry, you have what’s coming to you for the lies you have told to the public and investors.” Musk responded by telling Tripp, “Threatening me only makes it worse for you.”

As it was Marty Tripp who gave the Washington Post the e-mails to begin with, it has some questioning the integrity of a whistleblower who would take his battle public without a lawyer, and who would hand off confidential data to other individuals in the first place rather than dealing with the situation in an appropriate manner.

Further, the hacking began in earnest after Tripp was reassigned at Tesla after allegedly experiencing issues with other colleagues, something Tesla stated clearly shows his “anger after he was reassigned.” The company alleges that the whistleblowing claims amount to nothing but retaliation.

In the Complaint filed by Tesla, Tripp is reputed to have hacked three completely different computer systems of separate individuals working at the company in the vain hope that he wouldn’t be traced and that other innocent parties would be presumed guilty.

“Trip also made false claims to the media about the information he stole. For example, Tripp claimed that punctured battery cells had been used in certain Model 3 vehicles even though no punctured cells were ever used in vehicles, batteries or otherwise. Tripp also vastly exaggerated the true amount and value of ‘scrap’ material that Tesla generated during the manufacturing process, and falsely claimed that Tesla was delayed in bringing new manufacturing equipment online.”

When it comes to the level of waste that Marty Tripp claims to have witnessed at the Gigafactory, Tesla notes that this has been “grossly exaggerated,” as Ars Technica has reported.

“Relying on the internal data that he hacked from Tesla’s manufacturing operations system, Tripp incorrectly stated that Tesla has generated nearly $150 million in scrap at the Gigafactory in 2018. That number is wrong by more than a factor of two. He included large quantities that were not scrap from 2018 at all, but that were instead items such as materials from last year that had already been included in Tesla’s 2017 financials, or that were simply serial numbers assigned as part of routine system testing to components that were never even made.”

Tesla further stated that Tripp “does not actually know the value of the scrap that he assigned dollar values to. He just guessed.” While the company acknowledges that in February a robot had caused a small amount of damage to some “modules,” these were then swiftly tossed.

“If there was even a sliver of doubt about whether a cell could pose a safety concern, it was not used in any vehicle. Notably, there have been zero battery safety issues in any Model 3.”

Elon Musk astutely observed that despite Marty Tripp’s actions the vast majority of Tesla employees are honest and hard-working individuals, which he demonstrated by using a simple mathematical calculation to back it up.

Frighteningly, Tesla’s Gigfactory plant received a phone call last Wednesday that was alleged to have been from a friend of Marty Tripp, which gave the company the news that Tripp was planning to go on a rampage and “shoot the place up.” Tripp has since denied knowledge of this phone call.

There continues to be plenty of speculation about what will happen with the lawsuit filed by Tesla, but it is hoped that it will prevent future bad apples from venting their fury at a company that has worked so hard to achieve the success it has in the field of electric cars.