Posts tagged with "Tesla"

Tesla to pay more than $130 million in damages to Black former worker

IOctober 6, 2021

Tesla  subjected a Black former worker to a racially hostile work environment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent him from being harassed, a federal jury in San Francisco found on Monday, October 4.

The eight-person jury awarded more than $130 million in damages to Owen Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory in 2015 and 2016, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Diaz often was called racial epithets at work, where he saw racist images and language written in the bathroom and elsewhere, said Bernard Alexander, one of his attorneys, during the trial. The factory, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, was Tesla’s lone auto assembly plant at the time—employing roughly 10,000 people.

The complainant, age 53, held his head in his hands after the jury’s verdict was read. He called the decision a weight off his shoulders. The trial lasted just over a week.

“It shines a light on what’s going on inside of Tesla’s factory,” he said. “Elon Musk, you’ve been put on notice. Clean that factory up.”

Tracey Kennedy, an attorney for Tesla, said in her closing argument that there was no evidence that a Tesla employee harassed Diaz and that the company shouldn’t be held liable for the treatment Diaz alleged. Many workers at Tesla’s factory are contractors employed through staffing agencies.

Tesla’s VP of People Valerie Capers Workman said in an email to employees Monday that when Mr. Diaz complained about harassment, the company ensured its staffing agencies took action.

“While we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect,” she said in the note, which was republished on Tesla’s blog.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the verdict or any plans to appeal.

Among the three claims on which the trial centered are the following:

  • Tesla subjected Diaz to a racially hostile work environment;
  • The company failed to prevent him from being racially harassed; and
  • Tesla was negligent in its supervision or retention of an employee, causing harm to Diaz.

Tesla denied in a court filing that it was aware of the alleged discriminatory and harassing behavior and didn’t take action to protect Black employees. Kennedy urged the jury to find in Tesla’s favor on each of the claims.

However, the jury, after roughly four hours of deliberation, found in favor of Diaz on all claims and ordered Tesla to pay Diaz $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages.

It is the second time in recent months that the electric-vehicle maker has been found liable in a case involving claims of race-based harassment or discrimination.

Another Black former Tesla worker, Melvin Berry, won a $1 million judgment in May after an arbitrator found that he was called racial slurs by his supervisors and subjected to other racial conduct in the Fremont factory. Tesla was obligated to investigate and stop the racial discrimination and failed to do so, the arbitrator said in her order.

Tesla said that any actions the company took weren’t racially based, according to the order.

Diaz, who was employed by a staffing agency, didn’t sign an arbitration agreement, allowing his case to proceed to trial. His attorneys said they believed this to be the first case involving alleged harassment or discrimination at Tesla to reach trial.

Tesla is facing similar claims in California state court, where former Tesla assembly worker Marcus Vaughn sued, alleging that Tesla created an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment for Black workers. He and other plaintiffs are seeking class certification.

Tesla has denied the claims, court records show. In a blog post after Vaughn filed his lawsuit in 2017, Tesla said, “it is not humanly possible to stop all bad conduct, but we will do our best to make it as close to zero as possible.”

An investor proposal up for consideration at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday calls on the board to oversee preparation of a report about how the company’s use of mandatory arbitration affects employees and corporate culture. Tesla’s board has urged investors to vote against the proposal. A similar measure failed last year.

Research contact: @WSJ

Chomping at the ‘bit’: Tesla buys $1.5 billion in bitcoin; plans to accept it as payment

Febraury 9, 2021

Tesla announced Monday that it has bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin, CNBC reports.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it bought the bitcoina cryptocurrencyfor “more flexibility to further diversify and maximize returns on our cash.”

Tesla also said it will start accepting payments in bitcoin in exchange for its products “subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis.” That would make Tesla the first major automaker to do so. (The $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin will give Tesla liquidity in the cryptocurrency once it starts accepting it for payments.)

Interestingly enough, this is not Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s first foray into digital payments. He also is the majority stockholder in PayPal.

However, Tesla’s move into bitcoin represents an investment of a significant percentage of its cash in the investment, CNBC reports. The company had more than $19 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand at the end of 2020, according to its most recent filing.

The moves raised immediate questions around Musk’s behavior on Twitter in recent weeks, where he has been credited for increasing the prices of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and dogecoin by posting positive messages that have encouraged more people to buy the digital currencies.

Two weeks ago, the billionaire Tesla owner added the hashtag #bitcoin to his Twitter bio, in a move that helped to briefly push up the price of the cryptocurrency by as much as 20%. Two days later, he said on the social medial chat site Clubhouse: “I do at this point think bitcoin is a good thing, and I am a supporter of bitcoin.”

Bitcoin prices surged to new highs Monday following Tesla’s announcement, reaching a price of at least $44,200. Tesla shares were up more than 2% Monday morning. Tesla warned investors of the volatility of bitcoin’s price in its SEC filing.

Musk has gotten into trouble for his market moving tweets in the past, but it’s unclear how that applies to his tweets about cryptocurrencies.

Research contact: @CNBC

Billionaire Tim Draper invests in a startup that has totally transformed aircraft spacing and seating

July 15, 2020

Zephyr Aerospace, a startup that hopes to totally transform the way in which economy class passengers experience air travel, announced on July 14 that it had  raised an undisclosed amount of funding from billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, who has previously backed Tesla, SpaceX, Coinbase and Twitter.

The investment will enable Zephyr Seat—a new airline seat and bed that offers a lie-flat accommodation and can be retrofitted to exiting commercial aircraft—to pass rigorous certification by the Federal Aviation Association and to continue direct engagements with prospective airlines and aircraft manufacturers. The “outside the box” design also meets social distancing requirements during the age of the pandemic—and features a double-decker design of single seats throughout the economy section.

“I’m sold on the design, I think it’s a great idea that is going for the right thing. Zephyr Seat is making all of our lives much better,” said Tim Draper. “If you are paying for Economy Class and can lie down, that’s huge.”

With most of the world in quarantine and eager to travel again, Zephyr Aerospace is committed to improving the travel experience for every traveler by making personal space and inflight sleep more safe and affordable.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have had a significant impact on the travel industry and major airlines are faced with a decision to reinvent themselves and find better ways to serve the needs of their customers.

To support Zephyr’s mission to improve air travel and gain a financial stake in their success, visit their equity crowdfunding campaign on Republic (https://republic.co/zephyr-aerospace). This is the first time Zephyr Aerospace has accepted funding from outside investors and they are allowing people to invest as little as $100 in exchange for equity.

Research contact: @zephyrseat

Pedal to the metal: Elon Musk dares California to arrest him as Tesla plant reopens

May 13, 2020

He has challenged the laws of mobility and gravity with his companies, Tesla and SpaceX, so why should Elon Musk bend to the laws of Alameda County, California?

This week, Musk has escalated his war with Alameda officials—tweeting that he is reopening Tesla’s manufacturing plant there despite a local ban by authorities who believe it’s not safe to do so.

If county officials don’t like it, Musk said, they can arrest him, according to a report by Fast Company. Indeed, he tweeted on May 11, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Indeed, he says, county officials are illegally flaunting California law. Also on Twitter, Musk noted, “Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!”

The tweet and decision to reopen Tesla’s only U.S. plant come after a dramatic weekend, during which Musk threatened to move the company’s headquarters from California to Nevada or Texas, Bloomberg reports.

The threat came after California Governor Gavin Newsom gave the okay last week for manufacturers in the state to start operations again, but Alameda County officials overruled that decision. It should be noted, however, that Governor Newsom granted local authorities the power to remain more restrictive with their stay-at-home orders than the state’s as a whole, essentially allowing them to decide when certain types of businesses can reopen in their areas.

That did not sit well with Musk, and Tesla then sued Alameda County over the weekend.. In response, Alameda County health officials issued a statement saying they were aware Tesla’s plant was reopening and hoped the company would choose to comply with local stay-at-home rules “without further enforcement measures.”

According to Fast Company, after Musk announced the Tesla plant would reopen, employees at the plant were emailed a memo announcing their furlough ended on Sunday and that they will be contacted within 24 hours with their return-to-work start date. Tesla said those who aren’t comfortable returning to work can stay at home—but they will be on unpaid leave and lose any jobless benefits.

The news outlet says that, since lockdown orders began, Musk has been the most vocal billionaire demanding people get back to work—going so far as to channel Trump in random outbursts on Twitter ranting against stay-at-home orders.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Driving ambition: Elon Musk claims Tesla will have 1 million robotaxis on roads by 2020

April 24, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this week that the company would have 1 million robotaxis on the roads by next year, according to a report by NBC News.

“I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year,” Musk said on stage at the Tesla Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California. They won’t be “in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I am confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year,” he said.

However, he noted that the autonomous cars might have nobody in them; they might be part of a pilot test. He also warned investors, “Sometimes I am not on time, but I get it done.”

Musk based his optimism on the amount of data his company has been able to gather from Tesla vehicles already on the road today, which it then uses to improve its software.

All Tesla electric cars being produced today have the hardware on board that’s required for full self-driving, Musk said, promising that, “all you need to do is improve the software.”

Musk also predicted that in two years, Tesla will be making cars with no steering wheels or pedals.

In the past, NBC News reports, Elon Musk’s forecasts for Tesla have missed the mark. Tesla was two years late with the launch of the Model X, its first all-electric SUV. And it was two years late in delivering semi-autonomous features to eager drivers.

When Tesla began to discuss its ambitions in self-driving technology in 2016, Musk said they would conduct a hands-free trip across the U.S. by late 2017. They have yet to complete that mission.

Currently, Tesla offers Autopilot — an advanced driver assistance system — as a standard feature in its cars. According to the company’s website, Autopilot can automatically hold a car in its lane and accelerate or brake automatically, for example, in response to pedestrians or other cars in its way. Tesla can improve Autopilot with new features (or bug fixes) over time via over-the-air updates, as well.

In addition, Tesla sells a Full Self-Driving (FSD), package for its vehicles for $5,000 or more if the software is installed after the vehicle is initially purchased, the network news outlet reports.

FSD features today include Summon, which lets a driver call their Tesla to roll out from a parking spot to where they are standing (with no driver on board). And FSD lets drivers  Navigate on Autopilot, automatically driving a car from a highway on-ramp to an off-ramp, making necessary lane changes along the way.

Later this year, Tesla’s website says, cars with FSD should be able to read and respond properly to traffic lights and stop signs, and drive automatically on city streets.

However, Tesla still cautions its drivers, “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” In other words, keep your eyes on the road.

Research contact: @Tesla

From fantastical to familiar: Elon Musk portends new products—and Metaculus takes heed

January 15, 2019

Elon Musk is visionary and a pioneer. He is known for making bold predictions—and then, for going on to invent, design, and produce exactly what he has portended. In doing so, since 2002, he has become either the founder or co-founder of a slew of futuristic companies, from Neuralink to SpaceX to Tesla.

Hence, when Musk anticipates or forecasts a new development, most of us sit up and take notice—and if we are even smarter, we take notes.

For example, back in April 2017, Musk said that, by 2021, his brain-computer interface company Neuralink would release a viable product for treating brain injuries. Two years before that, he predicted that the electronic vehicle manufacturer Tesla would eventually grow as big as Apple—a company that was then worth $700 billion.

Now, to help us all keep track of one of one of his biggest claims, a website called Metaculus—built by a community dedicated to generating accurate predictions about future real-world events by aggregating the collective wisdom, insight, and intelligence of its participants—has created an interactive timeline that tracks all of Musk’s predictions for the future.

According to the website Futurism, among the predictions already filed away by the Metaculus team: Musk’s hunch that we all live in a simulation; his conjecture that there’s a 70% likelihood that he’ll move to Mars; and his prophesy that SpaceX will shuttle a million colonists to Mars by 2120.

In the site’s new Musk timeline, Metaculus also includes predictions that are relevant to Musk’s companies. For instance, only 17% of Metaculus voters agree that we live in a simulation. And unfortunately for Musk, the community that thinks there’s only a 7% chance that Tesla will become the world’s largest car manufacturer by 2035.

So far, Futurism reports, the Metaculus community has been correct nine times and incorrect three times about predictions related to Musk; and the validity of another 13 predictions has yet to be determined.

The community voted that there was only a 3% chance that Musk would be sanctioned for tweeting about taking Tesla private, while his tweet actually prompted two federal investigations. The Metaculus community also incorrectly guessed that SpaceX would land a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge by March 2016 and that Tesla would not be profitable in Q3 of 2018.

However, the community was right on the nose when it found a 9% probability that Elon Musk’s boy-sized submarines would prove useful in that whole cave rescue debacle.

Overall, Musk is more optimistic about the future of technology than the Metaculus community. For instance, Musk thinks there will one million Martian colonists by 2120. Metaculus voters say there’s just a 43% chance that humans will sustain any sort of “off-world presence” by 2100.

But you have got to dream it, before you do it, right? And with his boundless imagination and worldwide following, we would bet on Musk to help us live the dream.

Research contact: @DanRobitzski

Musk considers taking Tesla private

August 9, 2018

Tesla—which has evolved from an audacious and aggressive Silicon Valley electric-car manufacturer founded in 2003 to a $63 billion colossus just eight years after going public—could be reversing course to go private.

A final decision has not yet been made, Chief Executive Elon Musk told his employees in an August 7 email posted on the company’s official website.

As a public company,” Musk wrote, “we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market; being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company. “

Basically, he said, “I’m trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible.

Musk envisions that being private would mean four things for “all shareholders, including employees”—among them:

Musk ended the email on a positive note, with no timeline for the decision or the final move. “This proposal to go private would ultimately be finalized through a vote of our shareholders. If the process ends the way I expect it will, a private Tesla would ultimately be an enormous opportunity for all of us. Either way, the future is very bright and we’ll keep fighting to achieve our mission,” he stated.

Research contact: Press@tesla.com