Tesla sued former employee Martin Tripp for hacking the automaker’s computer systems

Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk. (AP Photo / Kiichiro Sato)

Tesla sued a former employee on Wednesday, accusing the man of hacking into the automaker's computer systems and stealing company secrets, shedding light on what Chief Elon Musk had suggested was the work of a secret internal saboteur. 19659003] But the employee, Martin Tripp, told The Washington Post that he did not manipulate internal systems and that he is an informant who spoke after seeing "some really terrifying things" inside the company, including dangerously drilled batteries installed in cars . 19659004] Tesla lawyers wrote in their lawsuit that Tripp, a former technician at the company's Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada, wrote software to badist in a theft of confidential photos and videos of Tesla's manufacturing systems. The firm's lawyers said Tripp worked at Tesla from October to last week, when the company's investigators confronted him with evidence.

Tripp, the lawyers wrote, also gave journalists false information about the company, including claims that defective batteries were used in the Tesla Model 3 sedans. The company did not respond to requests for comments.

Speaking Wednesday night with The Post, Tripp confirmed that he provided information to Business Insider for a story that the news website made earlier this month about the raw material waste of the company.

But Tripp, 40, said he did it because he was alarmed by what he learned while employed, including what he said were hundreds of models 3 that had drilled batteries. Tesla representatives have said they would not send cars that have safety problems.

Tripp said he did not hack into Tesla's computers and said: "I do not have the patience to code." He also said he was not, as Tesla's lawyers claimed, upset about not getting promoted. "That's his generic excuse," he said. "I could literally care less."

Tripp said he is looking for a lawyer and official protections as a whistleblower.

Tesla refuted Tripp's allegations of being an informant and said he has made false and exaggerated claims to try and hurt the company Tesla said he never used drilled batteries on any model 3 and that he was wrong about production and waste numbers of raw material of Musk.

The lawsuit adds a new layer of intrigue to a Silicon Valley giant that is already consuming production pressures and internal Musk suspicions about a corporate conspiracy. The company, which last week said it would cut 9 percent of its workforce, is approaching a critical deadline to show it can achieve a long-delayed goal: build 5,000 models 3 per week.

[As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow]

In a company-wide email On Sunday, Musk said an employee accused of sabotage had complained about not being promoted and added that "there may be much more in this situation than it seems." Musk called on workers to "be extremely attentive" and said: "There is a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die."

When asked if Tripp was the employee that Musk had suggested was behind the sabotage, Musk tweeted Wednesday, "There is more, but the actions of a few rotten apples will not prevent Tesla from achieving its goals. With 40,000 people, the worst 1 in 1000 will have problems. That's still ~ 40 people. "

The lawsuit highlights a widespread paranoia about information theft in the fiercely competitive, advanced manufacturing and driverless automobiles industries. In February, Uber paid $ 245 million to settle a legal battle over the alleged theft of trade secrets with Waymo, the autonomous unit of Google's parent company, Alphabet.

Tesla lawyers requested a court order to inspect computers, Tripp emails, online messages and phone calls.

Tripp, Tesla's lawyers said, had been "disruptive and combative" with his colleagues and had grown discontented after being badigned to a new position. The company seeks an incalculable amount in damages that will be decided in a lawsuit.

Due to Tripp's conduct, lawyers said that Tesla had suffered "cruel and unfair deprivation" and "business losses, loss of profits and damage to his goodwill" [19659018] Tripp said he was questioned at work last week and that a human resources representative fired him on the phone on Tuesday. He said he heard about the lawsuit for the first time on Wednesday.

Tripp said Musk sent him an email shortly after the lawsuit was filed to say he was a horrible person. Tripp said he responded that Musk deserved what was coming.

Tripp said he left his previous job at a medical device company and moved with his family to Nevada to work for Tesla, believing it was "a golden opportunity." I looked up to Elon, admired Tesla. drooling over the Teslas and I wanted to buy one, and I was living the mission: accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy. "

But he said he was disappointed after seeing the company waste, unsustainable practices and" see how Elon was lying to investors about how many cars they were making. " He added: "I wanted to leave the world better for my son, and I felt I was doing everything but that."

He said he did not share the information to hurt Tesla, but to shed light on possible dangers. He said he now believes Musk is a "narcissist" who "only cares about himself".


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