To be sure, Musk’s brash personality has helped build the Tesla brand, allowed it to expand without marketing, and given many employees a sense of mission tied to the man and his climate goals.
Long hours and unreasonable working conditions are the norm for some, a former Tesla engineer said: “It’s how we are wired.”
And other tech companies are cutting jobs or slowing or pausing hiring amid weakening demand, potentially reining in some Tesla staff’s willingness to jump ship.
But Musk’s recent embrace of a new partisan political identity is off-putting to some employees, particularly liberal tech workers in Silicon Valley.
“He’s a very polarizing guy. You either love the guy or you hate the guy,” said Will Hunsinger, CEO at recruiting firm Riviera Partners.
“Some people are huge fans, and they will do anything to work for one of his companies. And others will say, like, I do not really agree with his way of running the company.”
The billionaire has tapped his large Twitter following to attack Democratic lawmakers, used his bid for the microblogging platform to champion free speech, including a pledge to restore former president Donald Trump’s account, and he has said he will vote Republican.
“There are people for whom this is very distasteful,” recruiter Solomon said. “These are people who have a lot of choices about their employment options.”
Many Tesla employees will wait for the stock to recover, said a former Tesla manager, who described stock awards as “golden handcuffs” that keep staff from leaving. “But if they think the Tesla share price will remain low, then they are more likely to leave: their big bonus is not so big anymore.”