It looks like there might be a possible saboteur somewhere within the ranks of Tesla, according to Elon Musk. The billionaire CEO recently sent out a warning that an employee had caused "extensive and damaging sabotage" to the company and its operations. Nobody knows who the mysterious culprit is--only that they have created massive amounts of harm. So far, they've made internal changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System and sent data to unknown third parties.

The email

According to the email, Musk launched an investigation to find out the culprit's identity and whether they're working alone. The culprit stated that their motivation was that they were passed over for a promotion.

"In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move," Musk wrote.

Musk said that there may be "more than meets the eye." After all, the so-called disgruntled employee might have different motivations than the ones they stated. Musk said that there is a "long list of organizations that want Tesla to die," including short-sellers and oil and gas companies. This alludes to the possibility of the saboteur being affiliated with one of those organizations or having personal motives. The news comes shortly after Tesla announced it was laying off 9 percent of its staff, which adds up to a few thousand workers.

It's not surprising

Data theft from disgruntled workers is nothing new. A study in 2013 by Symantec found that half of all employees who had lost their jobs between February 2012 and February 2013 had kept confidential company data. In addition, 40 percent of that group planned to use it during their new jobs. Furthermore, 68 percent of respondents said that their company doesn't do enough to prevent workers from selling sensitive data to third parties.

Employee empowerment

Musk ended the note by warning his employees to "be extremely vigilant" and provided a call to action requesting that any suspicious activity seen be reported. Why is this so important? Like many employees who join the ranks of a high-profile company like Tesla, there is a strong, passionate alignment with the mission and the groundbreaking work being done to change the automotive industry (and the world). 

And Musk knows this.

His words empowered the Tesla workforce, and will result in proactive watchfulness against anyone trying to hurt their cause--or Tesla family. In times like these, the collective workforce can be your strongest ally, and Musk was able to instantaneously activate an army of loyalists.

Tesla is still in the process of completing its 5,000 Model 3s -- a time when the company is at its most vulnerable. 

A story waiting to unfold

Is the suspect a disgruntled worker or might they be someone far more sinister? Were they acting alone or is there a secret network of saboteurs within the company's ranks? Only time will tell how this story plays out. Regardless, it's a frightening, yet thrilling, reality that Tesla must face--but Musk continues to rise to the occasion, providing powerful lessons while facing adversity.  

Previously, Musk sent out another email regarding a (likely unrelated) factory fire where he said,

"Only the paranoid survive."

Such words have never rung truer.