Enlarge /. Rivian's R1T truck.
Tesla has sued rival Rivian for stealing business secrets. Tesla says around 70 people have left Tesla after Rivian – 22 of them in the past four months. And Tesla claims that some of these employees took confidential documents with them on the way to the door.
Rivian has emerged as Tesla's perhaps most impressive rival among electric vehicle startups. The company announced a $ 2.5 billion donation round earlier this month, in addition to $ 2.85 billion last year. The company is working on a pickup, an SUV and a delivery van for corporate customers, all of which are battery operated. Amazon, a Rivian investor, has already ordered 100,000 Rivian vans.
With a lot of work and billions in the bank, Rivian has to hire quickly. Not surprisingly, Tesla employees were a primary target for Rivian's recruiters. Tesla respects Rivian's right to hire Tesla employees, but argues that Rivian didn't play fairly.
For example, Tesla claims that, shortly before leaving Tesla, an employee used "highly sensitive trade secret information and bonus information for Tesla sales personnel for use at Rivian – including base rates, target bonuses, recruitment bonuses and incentives". based remuneration numbers. "Knowing Tesla's salary levels would obviously give Rivian an advantage in recruiting Tesla workers.
Another employee reportedly took "candidate lists, Tesla organization chart, information about Tesla recruiters and [and] companies from which Tesla obtains candidates".
A third employee is said to have helped herself "to manufacture project management, to control specifications for production systems, specifications for production robots and requirements for production systems". A fourth recorded a list of Tesla employees with network loading experience – some of whom were soon hired by Rivian.
Tesla says these four people may just be the tip of the iceberg. The company continues to investigate the actions of other employees who recently left Tesla after Rivian, and will add some of them as suspects if they uncover evidence of wrongdoing.
In most cases, employees reportedly downloaded the documents from the Tesla network in the last few days before leaving Tesla, and then sent them to personal email addresses. When confronted by Tesla investigators, some admitted to taking confidential information while others kept their innocence, Tesla says.
The employees named in the lawsuit worked for Tesla in California, which has refused to enforce competition bans in employment contracts. So there's little Tesla – or any California company – can do to prevent employees from going to a competitor and taking sensitive information with them in their heads. However, the California courts enforce confidentiality agreements and trade secret laws. If Tesla can prove that these employees took Rivian confidential documents with them, they could have serious legal problems.