Tesla Inc. just started bidding farewell to more than 3,000 employees, the biggest layoffs in the company’s 15-year history. Some of those who lost their jobs have had surprisingly positive parting words to share with the chief executive who let them go.
“It is the right thing for the company,” wrote Kevin Throop, a sales manager who had been at Tesla since 2014. He was replying to a tweet from Elon Musk announcing the termination of 9 percent of the workforce. “I don’t regret giving all I had and in a way bidding adieu is my last contribution.”
Throop wasn’t the only newly unemployed Tesla worker to cheer on his former boss on Twitter.
While it may not be unusual for people to leave a job with mixed emotions about a former employer, the praise emanating from Tesla's stands out. They're exiting a company that's been on a hiring tear at a time when the CEO swears the short sellers are going to be proven dead wrong for doubting its prospects for succeess.
The outpouring on Musk’s preferred platform for communication mirrors his crusading persona and Tesla’s overwhelming sense of mission. The company won’t be able to succeed in its goal—to get the world to transition to clean cars and battery-powered buildings—if it’s unable to put an an end to an era of regularly burning through $1 billion dollars a quarter.
“The people thanking Elon for the opportunity to work there are authentic. It’s unprecedented,” said Gene Munster, a managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures. “One of Tesla’s secret weapons is the shared vision of clean energy, as well as how much people believe in Elon Musk and his leadership. It’s a unique asset for Tesla.”
Throop, whose Twitter handle is @seekevinrun, started his Tesla career in Southern California: first as a product specialist, then as an owner adviser, and most recently as an enterprise sales manager for the Western U.S. and Canada. “People need to know that we need Tesla to succeed,” he said in response to questions about his message to Musk. “It’s the front lines in the fight against climate change.”
In an internal memo Tuesday, Musk stressed that the cuts largely focused on salaried workers and that no production associates were included, “so this will not affect our ability to meet Model 3 production targets in the coming months.” Tesla has struggled to produce the electric Model 3 sedan in high volumes and has yet to reach a 5,000-a-week target.
Employees across the company are learning they’re being let go this week and reaching separation agreements that restrict them from disparaging Tesla, which may muzzle more critical voices. And not all of Tesla’s former workers and their families have been so philosophical or upbeat about the layoffs.
Tesla’s shares initially pared gains following news of the layoffs, though the stock still closed Tuesday up 3.2 percent. The stock jumped as much as 2.8 percent as of 10:35 a.m. Thursday in New York and has risen five straight days, the longest streak since Oct. 6.
“I’m deeply grateful for your many contributions to our mission,” wrote Musk, who purchased $24.9 million worth of Tesla shares Tuesday. “It is very difficult to say goodbye.”