Tesla Cuts 200 Autopilot Jobs, Closes San Mateo Office – Report

Tesla’s restructuring activities continues after 200 staff were made redundant, and its San Mateo office in California was closed down.

The development was first reported by Bloomberg, and it seems that the San Mateo office was where Tesla staff worked on improving the company’s driver assistance systems including Autopilot.

The cost cutting measures come after CEO Elon Musk earlier this month told Tesla executives in an email that he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and planned to cut headcount by 10 percent and “pause all hiring worldwide.”

Job losses

Then last week Musk confirmed a 10 percent cut in salaried staff at Tesla will occur over three months, which equates to 10,000 jobs.

At the same time Tesla was sued by two former staff who allege the company broke the law in laying them off, along with about 10 percent of Tesla’s workforce, without notice required by federal law.

The two workers, John Lynch and Daxton Hartsfield, said they worked at Tesla’s battery plant near Reno, Nevada, for about five years before being laid off this month without notice.

The two said in the suit they were among more than 500 employees at the facility to be let go.

And now another 200 Tesla staff have been axed in California. According to Bloomberg the axed staff at the San Mateo facility had been tasked with labelling videos from the company’s cars in order to improve their driver assistance systems (i.e. Autopilot).

Two employees impacted by the layoffs however told CNBC on Tuesday that they knew Tesla’s lease was approaching its end. The workers asked not to be named because they weren’t authorised to speak on the matter.

Tesla previously moved a number of its Autopilot data employees to its location in Palo Alto, California.

The company has also been hiring and training data annotation teams in Buffalo, New York. Some San Mateo office employees had trained the teams in Buffalo, the staffers said.

One employee told CNBC that much of the staff in San Mateo had expected to be moved to Palo Alto or to another office, but not to lose their jobs.

Failed move

CNBC also obtained an audio recording of a meeting on Tuesday, during which a manager told the Tesla Autopilot data teams about the layoffs.

“You knew our lease was ending here in San Mateo,” the manager reportedly said.

She reportedly told the workers that the company did its best to try to bring the entire Autopilot team that was in the San Mateo office to the new location in Palo Alto.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t,” she said. “So what that means is we have a restructure in place and your positions were impacted.”

Employees at the meeting were told they would be paid in full for the next 60 days, but 28 June would be their last working day.

Staff were reportedly asked to immediately leave their laptops and badges at their desks, and were informed that emails with severance and benefits information would be in their inbox.

Severance packages are expected to include compensation based on years served at the company and an additional two months of benefits, extending coverage through 31 October.

Last week an an interview with Elon Musk in May, he revealed that Tesla’s new factories in Texas and Berlin were losing “billions of dollars”.

“Both Berlin and Austin factories are gigantic money furnaces right now. Okay?” he said. “It’s really like a giant roaring sound, which is the sound of money on fire.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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