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Well, Tesla had a helluva week... and we might be a little concerned about Elon Musk’s current mental state. The Hustle Sponsored by Whistleblower claims drug-trafficking ring operates inside of Tesla’s Nevada factory Last week, Tesla whistleblower Karl Hansen alleged...
By: Wes Schlagenhauf
August 20, 2018
Well, Tesla had a helluva week... and we might be a little concerned about Elon Musk’s current mental state.
Whistleblower claims drug-trafficking ring operates inside of Tesla’s Nevada factory
Last week, Tesla whistleblower Karl Hansen alleged that an employee at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory was involved in a massive drug ring, while others stole $37m worth of raw materials.
What was Elon Musk doing during all of this? Illegally spying on former employees, according to Hansen.
A former member of Tesla’s internal security department and investigations division, Hansen is the second whistleblower to file a formal complaint with the SEC this summer.
He’s got some steamy goss to share
Hansen claims Tesla failed to disclose an investigation the company conducted after receiving a tip that an employee had been moving “significant quantities” of cocaine through Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory “on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel from Sonora Mexico.”
And that’s not even Hansen’s craziest claim -- he also alleges that Tesla installed eavesdropping and wiretapping devices in its facilities and illegally scanned messages and conversations from Martin Tripp at the request of Elon Musk himself.
Who’s Martin Tripp you ask?
Tesla’s OG whistleblower. Back in July, the former Tesla employee alleged that Tesla manufactured batteries with punctured holes, as well as systemically used waste material in vehicles to meet its lofty production goals.
Tesla sued Tripp for $1m, accusing the former Gigafactory technician of hacking the automaker’s computer systems and stealing company secrets -- a claim Tripp denies.
The whistleblowing, along with Musk’s wreckless Tweets about re-privatizing the company being investigated by the SEC, have caused Tesla’s share price to slide $40 over the last few weeks, wiping almost $6B in value from the company.
Musk’s once-endearing eccentric behavior is beginning to worry board members, who are now reportedly said to be on the lookout for “senior talent” to help Musk take a load off.
And if it wasn’t already clear that he needs it, Musk recently broke down in a New York Times interview, where he revealed his absolutely bonkers work/life balance (or lack thereof), clocking in 120 hours a week at Tesla.
“I work about 3 weeks a week”
Threads raises $20m to sell more $3k purses in Snapchat and iMessage
Threads, a London-based luxury company that sells all of its goods through messaging apps, just raised $20m to expand its platform.
The startup, which doesn’t even have a website, is growing rapidly and pioneering a new type of ‘chat commerce’ that caters to consumers who spend more and more time on mobile devices.
Turning the luxury industry on its thread
Threads was created to provide busy luxury shoppers with a convenient and curated marketplace in the same place they’re already wasting time: messaging apps.
The style gurus behind Threads’ service recommend products from Dior and 250 other luxury brands to customers in conversation threads on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, iMessage, and WeChat.
How much does the average shopper spend?
If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
Customers buy an average $3k worth of swag per shopping sesh, and the company makes commission from the products’ suppliers on every purse they pawn off.
Chat commerce is the future
Threads customers, 70% of whom are under 35, are already spread across more than 100 countries.
For now, Threads is mainly focused on fashion and jewelry (those sweet, sweet margins), but eventually, the company plans to get chatting across a wider variety of verticals now that it’s bagged another $20m.
Amazon loses its lead in the smart speaker race… for now
Google found a second wind in the smart speaker race, with some impressive YoY growth, up 449%, according to TechCrunch.
The company doubled their number of devices shipped in the last year to 5.4m units, usurping Amazon’s measly 4.1m, to become the current heavyweight smart speaker champion of the world.
And it’s not just Google Amazon should be worried about…
Chinese companies have captured almost 30% of the global market in the last year, with companies like Alibaba and Xiaomi respectively shipping around 3m and 2m smart speakers.
The two are 3rd and 4th on the leaderboard (Apple didn’t even make the list) and currently account for more than 90% of market share in China.
Global is the new local…
With Europe and Asia accounting for 68% of Amazon’s growth and 58% of Google’s, companies are doubling down on the number of languages their devices can support.
Quartz notes this could be a sign of overcrowding in the US market, and a reason people have moved on from the Amazon product line (recent updates of Amazon’s speakers have reportedly offered few reasons to upgrade).
And, while Amazon still has a significant head start in the market, Google still has some tricks up their sleeve…
Retailers roll out facial recognition with mixed results -- and minimal regulation
Critics of facial recognition software often describe it as a problematic law enforcement tool, but it’s showing up somewhere else first -- the mall. And, despite the tech’s growth, its effectiveness (and ethics) are up for debate.
Eliminating theft or eliminating privacy?
Retailers lose $48.9B to theft every year, giving them about 50 billion reasons to want better video surveillance. But with great surveillance... comes great privacy invasion.
Most facial recognition surveillance systems are so discreet that the ACLU and other consumer rights advocates have criticized the technology, which usually collects data without permission from shoppers.
Either way, according to the CEO of facial recognition company FaceFirst, hundreds of retailers are already using the systems in their stores, with thousands more on the way in the near future
So… do they work?
Results are -- you guessed it -- inconclusive.
FaceFirst scans shoppers against a 25m-face database in under a second -- which, according to a FaceFirst rep, has reduced shoplifting by 30%. But, other big retailers like Target and Walmart have tested and scrapped the systems because they don’t deliver desired results
And the bigger problem is that no one can agree on who makes the rules. Only one state -- Illinois -- has passed laws banning the collection of biometric data without the subject’s consent. Everywhere else, it’s fair game for retailers to surveil faces to their heart’s content.
So as the debate about the ethics of facial recognition continues, make sure to smile the next time you go shopping.
Fundrise allows you to invest your money, according to your goals, in a portfolio filled with dozens of real estate projects — each one carefully handpicked with the purpose of growing your net worth mogul-style.
The 411 on dividends with Fundrise
Fundrise’s portfolios are set up to distribute income to investors in the form of -- you guessed it -- dividends. And to receive those potential dividends, you don’t have to do a thing.
It’s true passive income: You put cash into a Fundrise real estate portfolio, and they crank the dials according to your preferences to maximize the potential cash on the other side.
Whether you start with $500, $5,000, or, hey, $5 million, Fundrise is the simple, low-cost way to invest in real estate.
FINE-ISH PRINT: If you wanna read up on legal details, click right here. Warning: it’s a snoozer.
monday morning review
“Alexa, open reader feedback”
Ok, we don’t have an Alexa skill for that. Which means we get the pleasure of reading all your words of wisdom ourselves.
Here are a few reader notes we pulled from the archives:
Not a massive fan of the "Now Playing" section but I can see how it would apply to others. -- Doug
That makes one of us, Doug. “Now Playing” is one of our favorite new email additions (you can follow the full playlist here). But hey, different tunes for different goons, as they say.
The new music add-on at the bottom is a great new addition -- Kim
We’ll let you and Doug duke it out in the parking lot later.
Maybe stop using formatting from windows ‘98 -- David
First of all, it’s called an ~aesthetic~. Second, we make small tweaks to our layout every once in a while, but for the sake of loading speeds and readability, we prefer to keep it simple.
The writing style is great, but dial down the tone, like, 5%. -- Steve
Listen, our content is like a microchip -- according to our calculations, about 10% wit, 10% relatable analogies, 80% need-to-know business news. A 5% dial-down?? That’s like asking NASA to be 5% less rocket-y. We don’t know what would happen exactly, but probably an explosion.