Tesla Loses Some of Its Most Important Executives in Massive Layoff Round

1 month ago - 17 April 2024, autoevolution
Tesla Loses Some of Its Most Important Executives in Massive Layoff Round
Drew Baglino, Tesla's vice president of vehicle engineering, is the latest executive to leave the company. The news comes amid a massive layoff round affecting over 10% of Tesla's global workforce. Rohan Patel, who has filled the role of an ad-hoc PR department at Tesla, is also leaving the carmaker.

Rumors of massive layoffs at Tesla have been recently confirmed by a leaked Elon Musk email to employees, announcing that Tesla will sack over 10% of Tesla's global headcount. However, the restructuring appears much deeper than we initially thought. Those 10% layoffs included some of the most important Tesla executives, leaving people wondering what's going on at Tesla.

To be fair, losing 14,000 employees is a huge setback for any company. It's certainly the most significant trimming of the workforce in Tesla's history. The company regularly announces massive layoffs to motivate its employees and streamline operations. However, things are different this time, as the move comes after a disastrous quarter. This probably explains why some of the most important Tesla executives have also left the company.

Tesla's Senior Vice President of Powertrain and Energy, Drew Baglino, is one of them. Baglino was one of the first Tesla employees, having spent 18 years at the company. He was also Tesla's most senior engineering executive, in charge of batteries, drive units, power electronics, and energy products. Baglino announced his departure on X as if this was his decision. To support this theory, Elon Musk replied to his post, thanking him for his huge contribution to Tesla's success.

However, Baglino confessed that he has no other plans beyond spending more time with his family and kids. This doesn't sound like a move he planned in advance, but a steep change that upended his life. Given his seniority and competence, I do not doubt that Baglino will find his spot soon, although it might not be with an EV maker. That's because Tesla has draconian non-compete rules preventing people from going to other EV companies.

Musk also thanked Rohan Patel, another key Tesla executive, for his contribution, although in less affectionate terms. Patel has worked at Tesla for the past eight years, after being Barack Obama's senior adviser for climate policy. His position (Tesla Policy and Bizdev) might not reveal much, but Patel was the most important link with the Tesla community. He offered timely updates on Tesla's plans and ensured owners' feedback was passed to Tesla's decision makers.

Both Baglino and Patel lost their Tesla badge on X on Monday morning, prompting speculations that they were part of a big reshuffling at Tesla. Later, both wrote a farewell post on X, thanking their colleagues and teams for their support and resilience. And, coincidentally, neither has plans after leaving Tesla.

This is not the first time Tesla has lost important talent. AI Genius and computer vision chief Andrej Karpathy was arguably the most significant loss. Karpathy left the company in 2022 for OpenAI, although he has kept a close connection with Tesla and Elon Musk. One year later, Zachary Kirkhorn, Tesla's CFO, also left the company. He was credited with the biggest chance of replacing Elon Musk as Tesla's CEO. Kirkhorn's departure has been just as unexpected for him as for everyone else. 

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