Technology

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he must approve all new hires in internal email

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SpaceX, Twitter and electric car maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk meets with France’s President Emmanuel Macron (L) at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on May 15, 2023. 
Ludovic Marin | Afp | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent an email to “everybody” at his electric vehicle maker on Monday, expressing concern over the company’s current hiring practices.

“I would like to gain a better understanding of our hiring,” Musk wrote in the email. “VPs should send me a list of their department hiring requests once a week.”

Tesla staffers read the email as either a soft hiring freeze, or a signal that Musk is renewing his focus on the car company now that he’s named a CEO for Twitter, according to an employee, who asked to remain unnamed in order to speak candidly.

On Friday, Musk said NBCUniversal ad chief Linda Yaccarino would be Twitter’s new CEO, about six months after he purchased the social media company for $44 billion.

Last month, Tesla reported a more than 20% drop in first quarter net income from a year earlier, contributing to a 10% drop in the company’s stock price. Musk at the time suggested that the company would prefer higher volumes to higher margins, a comment that prompted some concern from analysts.

“Think carefully before sending me a request,” Musk wrote in Monday’s email. “No one can join Tesla, even as a contractor, until you receive my email approval.”

Musk has generally been involved in new hire and budget approvals at Tesla since he took over as CEO in 2008.

Electrek, a publication focused on EVs, previously on the email earlier. Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, Tesla is slated to host its annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas. Stakeholders must decide whether to approve of new and old board appointments, including the addition of ex-Tesla technology chief JB Straubel.

Proxy advisory Glass Lewis recommended last month that shareholders vote against Straubel, because they didn’t view him as an appropriate independent director given his history with the company from its early years through 2019, when he resigned.

A separate consortium of environment, social and governance-focused funds also urged shareholders to reconsider who they appoint to Tesla’s board. Some admonished the company’s current board to rein in an “over-committed” CEO in an open letter.

Musk sold billions of dollars worth of Tesla shares to finance his Twitter takeover, and has courted controversy ever since.

Under Musk’s watch, Twitter restored the accounts of previously banned and divisive figures, including neo-Nazi website founder Andrew Anglin. In recent days, the company bowed to demands to throttle some content and users on the app in Turkey, ahead of an important election there.

Here’s Monday’s email from Musk:

To: Everybody

From: Elon Musk

Subj. Hiring

Date: May 15, 2023

I would like to gain a better understanding of our hiring. VPs should send me a list of their department hiring requests once a week.

Think carefully before sending me a request. No one can join Tesla, even as a contractor, until you receive my email approval.

Thanks,

Elon

WATCH: Tesla has major growth behind it

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