TSLAQ

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TSLAQ
$TSLAQ
TslaQ-no-tag.png
NicknameTESLAQ
Named afterTesla ticker symbol + "Q" which is NASDAQ notation for bankruptcy
FormationJul. 24, 2018; 3 years ago (Jul. 24, 2018)
TypeAnti-Tesla, networked advocacy, fraud deterrence, pro-shorting
OriginsTwitter
Region
International
Key people
Lawrence Fossi, Randeep Hothi, Martin Tripp, @Paul91701736, @TESLAcharts
Websitehttps://www.tslaq.org

TSLAQ is a loose, international[1] collective of largely anonymous short-sellers,[2] skeptics, and researchers who openly criticize Tesla, Inc. and its CEO, Elon Musk.[3] The group primarily organizes on Twitter, often using the $TSLAQ cashtag,[4] and Reddit[5] to coordinate efforts and share news, opinions, and analysis about the company and its stock.[6] Edward Niedermeyer, in his book Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors (2019), establishes the catalyst for the formation of TSLAQ in July 2018 to be the doxxing by a Twitter user[7] of Lawrence Fossi, a Seeking Alpha writer and Tesla short seller who uses the pseudonym Montana Skeptic.[8] TSLAQ highlights what they claim to be a variety of dangerous, deceptive, unlawful and fraudulent business practices by Tesla.[9] On occasion, TSLAQ has exchanged hostilities with Tesla fans over social media.[5] An online group,[10] TSLAQ's activities at times include taking aerial photography[11] and visiting parking lots used by Tesla for storage.[12]

Motivations[edit]

According to the Los Angeles Times, TSLAQ members believe Tesla is a fraudulent company and its stock will eventually crash, while also specifically claiming that Tesla is experiencing a "demand cliff" for its products and has had to regularly distort its sales numbers.[4] Their self-reported main goal is to "change the mind of Tesla stock bulls and the media."[4] Tesla was the most shorted stock in the U.S. in December 2020, with over $34.5 billion in shorted share value at its peak.[13] Business Insider described TSLAQ member activity as consisting of "exchang[ing] research, news articles, and sometimes outlandish conspiracy theories about the company" and that members are "betting on the company’s death and have found much success in irritating the billionaire executive."[14]

Highlighting Tesla's alleged dangerous and deceptive practices[edit]

Tesla under Musk's leadership has been involved in a number of lawsuits and controversies,[15] including investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice.[16] News of such investigations and subsequent litigation, the alleged fraud and insider-dealing in connection with Tesla's acquisition of SolarCity in 2016, are major organizing points for TSLAQ members.[17] Notably, Elon Musk revealed a "solar roof" shingle in October 2016 that later turned out to be fake, as originally speculated by @TESLAcharts.[17][18] The group has also raised questions about accounting irregularities related to warranty reserves, accounts receivables, and regulatory credits.[19] Perhaps most infamously, Musk settled fraud charges with the SEC after falsely tweeting that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private at $420 a share;[20] the incident raised questions regarding Tesla's accounting practices from TSLAQ and beyond.[21][22]

In terms of environmental safety concerns, Tesla has also been cited for numerous Occupational Safety and Health Agency violations at its factory in Fremont, California – far more than any other major U.S. auto plant,[23] and allegedly fired an employee for raising the issue, an act that Montana Skeptic described as "nauseating."[24] Tesla has been fined for numerous air pollution and hazardous waste violations,[25][26] while also allegedly attempting to salvage damaged battery cells to later be installed in cars, according to Martin Tripp.[27] Tripp's leaks highlighted how Tesla sold Model S cars in 2012 with a known battery design flaw that could cause fires.[28]

In terms of less life-threatening alleged wrongdoing or deception, Tesla has been repeatedly accused by TSLAQ and others of reselling defective "lemon" cars outside the US.[29][30] TSLAQ also highlighted a California judge's ruling in 2019 that Tesla had violated labor laws by unfairly disciplining employees who engaged in pro-union activity.[31][32][33] According to TSLAQ member @Paul91701736, Tesla has frequently failed to achieve overly optimistic production projections.[4] Following Musk's statement that "Tesla does not need to ever raise another funding round" in 2012,[34] TSLAQ and others argue Tesla has had a total negative cash flow of over $8 billion and subsequently raised over $18 billion in additional debt and equity via subsidies and other means.[35][36] Musk also planned to build a fully automated factory for mass production of the Tesla Model 3,[37] describing the factory as an "unstoppable alien dreadnought ... [the] machine that builds the machine."[38] However, footage produced by a TSLAQ member of activity at the Fremont factory revealed that cars were largely being built by hand.[39]

Hothi defamation lawsuit[edit]

In April 2019, Tesla filed a lawsuit and a request for a restraining order against TSLAQ member Randeep Hothi, also known as @skabooshka.[40] The allegations spanned two episodes:

  1. In February 2019, Mr. Hothi was found sitting in his car in the Tesla Fremont Factory parking lot. Security ordered him to leave at which point Tesla alleged he exited at high speed and nearly struck an employee.[41]
  2. In a separate instance in April 2019, Mr. Hothi spotted a Tesla on the highway fitted with numerous camera systems and personnel in the car and he proceeded to film the vehicle believing it to be demonstrating and filming Tesla's Autopilot capabilities. Tesla alleged that he drove erratically and dangerously.[41]

In response to the allegations, TSLAQ members led by Fossi ran a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $100,000 for Hothi's defense fund. Tesla eventually dropped the lawsuit and the request for a temporary restraining order against Hothi after they refused to produce footage from within the test car on the grounds it "risked the safety and privacy of the employees involved in the case." After reviewing the surveillance camera footage of Tesla parking lot from the February date in question, Fremont police declined to press charges.[42]

In August 2020, Hothi sued Elon Musk for defamation over his accusations, in an email exchange with PlainSite's owner Aaron Greenspan, that Hothi had almost killed Tesla employees.[43] The presiding judge rejected Musk's motion to strike the lawsuit in January 2021, therefore allowing for the trial to move forward.[44]

Tripp whistleblower case[edit]

In August 2018, Martin Tripp, a former employee at Tesla's Giga Nevada, tweeted photos using the TSLAQ hashtag claiming to show scrapped Tesla car batteries that had broken and defective cells. The photos were part of a larger leak from Tesla's internal manufacturing defects database where all production problems are logged, and were provided to support Tripp's allegations about "the safety and quality of Tesla's parts."[45] Tripp was fired from Tesla after confessing to leaking Tesla internal data to Business Insider, and was reported to the local police by Tesla's security department after they said they received an anonymous tip about Tripp planning a mass shooting at the facility. However, Tripp was unarmed when police confronted him; they determined the threat was bogus and Tripp was not dangerous.[46]

After Tesla filed a lawsuit against Martin Tripp for trade secrets and computer crimes violations, Tripp engaged in a countersuit with Tesla over the whistleblowing incident as a whole.[47] In August 2020, Tripp leaked confidential documents from Tesla v. Tripp on Twitter and in response Tesla "urged the Nevada court to sanction him."[48] In addition, Tripp's legal defense was discovered to be financed by short-seller firm Cable Car Capital with a short position on Tesla's stock.[49][50] Tripp has previously said under oath that he had no financing or connection to Tesla short sellers.[51] In court, Tripp acknowledged intentionally violating the protective order after his lawyers withdrew counsel and he was ordered to pay Tesla $25,000 in attorney fees.[52] On December 1, 2020, the case was finally settled when Martin Tripp agreed to pay $400,000 in damages to Tesla.[53]

In digital media[edit]

TSLAQ has been profiled by RealVision in an episode that included interviews with prominent members such as @TESLACharts,[54] a TrueAnon miniseries,[55] and the podcast Hidden Forces.[56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Niedermeyer, Edward (August 20, 2019). Ludicrous : the unvarnished story of Tesla Motors. Dallas, TX. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-948836-32-6. OCLC 1089841254.
  2. ^ Kolodny, Lora (February 1, 2019). "Anonymous Tesla short sellers who fly over its parking lots taking pictures of cars have a new web site". CNBC. Archived from the original on December 7, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  3. ^ "Identify bots if you want to fix Twitter, advises Elon Musk". The Economic Times. January 18, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Mitchell, Russ (April 8, 2019). "Must Reads: The crowd-sourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will crash and burn". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 30, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Katwalla, Amit (May 5, 2019). "Inside the obsessive Twitter turf war over Elon Musk's Tesla tweets". Wired. Archived from the original on December 28, 2019. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  6. ^ "The Tesla sceptics who bet against Elon Musk". Bloomberg. January 22, 2020. Archived from the original on April 12, 2020. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  7. ^ Lambert, Fred (July 24, 2018). "Tesla troll and short doxxed as heavily invested in oil industry, Musk reportedly calls his boss". Electrek. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  8. ^ Niedermeyer, Edward (August 20, 2019). Ludicrous : the unvarnished story of Tesla Motors. Dallas, TX. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-948836-32-6. OCLC 1089841254.
  9. ^ "The Tesla Twitter war - charted". ftalphaville.ft.com. Archived from the original on August 11, 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  10. ^ "Drones and stakeouts: how Tesla 'haters' put pressure on CEO Musk". Reuters. August 29, 2018. Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  11. ^ Mitchell, Russ (April 8, 2019). "Must Reads: The crowd-sourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will crash and burn". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 30, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  12. ^ Niedermeyer, Edward (2019). Ludicrous: the unvarnished story of Tesla Motors. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-948836-32-6. OCLC 1089841254.
  13. ^ Duggan, Wayne (December 21, 2020). "Despite $38.2B In Losses, Tesla Short Sellers Ramp Up Bearish Bets". Yahoo Finance. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021.
  14. ^ Ungarino, Rebecca (April 17, 2019). "Inside Tesla Twitter". Market Insider. Archived from the original on December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  15. ^ Greenspan, Aaron (January 7, 2020). "Plainsite: Tesla: Reality Check". Plainsite. Archived from the original on April 22, 2020. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
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  17. ^ a b McLean, Bethany. ""He's Full of Shit": How Elon Musk Gambled Tesla to Save SolarCity". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on May 7, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  18. ^ "Elon Musk knew SolarCity was going broke before merger with Tesla, lawsuit alleges". Los Angeles Times. September 24, 2019. Archived from the original on July 30, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
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  23. ^ Ohnsman, Alan. "Inside Tesla's Model 3 Factory, Where Safety Violations Keep Rising". Forbes. Archived from the original on May 12, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
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  26. ^ US EPA, OA (April 1, 2019). "U.S. EPA settles with Tesla over hazardous waste violations at Fremont, Calif., facility". US EPA. Archived from the original on June 7, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  27. ^ "Twitter Promptly Suspends Tesla Whistleblower Following Tweets About His Former Employer". Gizmodo Australia. August 16, 2018. Archived from the original on October 23, 2020. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  28. ^ Lopez, Linette. "Leaked Tesla emails tell the story of a design flaw discovered in 2012 in the Model S battery that could lead to breakdowns and fires". Business Insider. Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  29. ^ "Lemon Laundering? Tesla Also Resells Defective Buyback Cars Abroad". InsideEVs. Archived from the original on August 17, 2020. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  30. ^ Greenspan, Aaron (January 7, 2020). "Reality Check: Tesla, Inc" (PDF). PlainSite. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  31. ^ "Who is Elon Musk?". tslaQ.org - Crowdsourced Tesla Research. December 17, 2019. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
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  33. ^ Henney, Megan (September 28, 2019). "Tesla and Elon Musk violated labor laws, judge rules". FOXBusiness. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
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  37. ^ Muoio, Danielle. "Elon Musk: Tesla's factory will be an 'alien dreadnought' by 2018". Business Insider. Archived from the original on March 29, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  38. ^ Muoio, Danielle. "Elon Musk: Tesla's factory will be an 'alien dreadnought' by 2018". Business Insider. Archived from the original on March 29, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  39. ^ Hull, Dana (January 22, 2020). "The Tesla Skeptics Who Bet Against Elon Musk". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on April 12, 2020. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  40. ^ "The Tesla Skeptics Who Bet Against Elon Musk". Bloomberg.com. January 22, 2020. Archived from the original on April 12, 2020. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  41. ^ a b Lopez, Linette (July 22, 2019). "Tesla Drops Suit Against Shortseller". Business Insider. Archived from the original on February 6, 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  42. ^ O'Kane, Sean (July 22, 2019). "Tesla drops lawsuit against critic after judge asks for evidence". The Verge. Archived from the original on August 18, 2019. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  43. ^ Bruno, Bianca (August 7, 2020). "Tesla Twitter Critic Sues Elon Musk for Defamation". Archived from the original on August 10, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  44. ^ "Musk Fails to Get Tesla Critic's Defamation Lawsuit Thrown Out". Bloomberg.com. January 28, 2021. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  45. ^ Lopez, Linette. "Ex-Tesla employee Martin Tripp posted dozens of photos that he alleges came from inside Tesla". Business Insider. Archived from the original on May 7, 2020. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  46. ^ Hull, Dana (March 13, 2019). "When Elon Musk Tried to Destroy a Tesla Whistleblower". www.bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on January 10, 2021. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  47. ^ Hawkins, Andrew J. (December 1, 2020). "Tesla whistleblower Martin Tripp ordered to pay $400,000 to settle hacking case". The Verge. Archived from the original on December 6, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  48. ^ "Tesla Wants Ex-Worker Sanctioned For Tweeting Inside Info - Law360". www.law360.com. Archived from the original on May 19, 2021. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  49. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 6, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  50. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20200814232241/https://finance.yahoo.com/news/tesla-says-short-seller-funding-193933743.html
  51. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20200814232241/https://finance.yahoo.com/news/tesla-says-short-seller-funding-193933743.html
  52. ^ News, Bloomberg (August 14, 2020). "Ex-Tesla worker agrees to sanctions over document dump - BNN Bloomberg". BNN. Archived from the original on August 18, 2020. Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  53. ^ Hawkins, Andrew J. (December 1, 2020). "Tesla whistleblower Martin Tripp ordered to pay $400,000 to settle hacking case". The Verge. Archived from the original on December 6, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  54. ^ "Tesla: Electric Noise". Real Vision. Retrieved June 26, 2021.
  55. ^ The Lamest Show On Earth (Part 1), retrieved June 26, 2021
  56. ^ "TSLAQ and the Crowdsourced Short Sale of the Century | TeslaCharts". Hidden Forces. Retrieved June 26, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]