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JB Straubel Sidelined In Tesla Q1 2018 10-Q

Summary

Fresh off the grille is a detail noticed by an intrepid bear.

JB Straubel is no longer named as a "key personnel" along with St. Elon (in fact he's not named at all) on the latest TSLA Q1 2018 10-Q.

.despite being named as such in all past 10-Qs/10-Ks.

First recognized here: https://twitter.com/NetflixAndLamp/status/996841753939505153

From the latest Q1 2018 TSLA 10-Q: 

If we are unable to attract and/or retain key employees and hire qualified personnel, our ability to compete could be harmed.

The loss of the services of any of our key employees could disrupt our operations, delay the development and introduction of our vehicles and services, and negatively impact our business, prospects and operating results. None of our key employees is bound by an employment agreement for any specific term and we may not be able to successfully attract and retain senior leadership necessary to grow our business. Our future success depends upon our ability to attract and retain executive officers and other key technology, sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and support personnel and any failure to do so could adversely impact our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.

Key talent may leave Tesla due to various factors, such as a very competitive labor market for talented individuals with automotive or technology experience. In California, Nevada and other regions where we have operations, there is increasing competition for individuals with skillsets needed for our business, including specialized knowledge of electric vehicles, software engineering, manufacturing engineering, and other skills such as electrical and building construction expertise. This competition affects both our ability to retain key employees and hire new ones. Our continued success depends upon our continued ability to hire new employees in a timely manner, especially to support our expansion plans and ramp to high-volume manufacture of vehicles, and to retain current employees. Additionally, we compete with both mature and prosperous companies that have far greater financial resources than we do and start-ups and emerging companies that promise short-term growth opportunities. Difficulties in retaining current employees or recruiting new ones could have an adverse effect on our performance."

Now, compare the above with the following language in the same section from the 2017 10-K, Q3 2017 and Q2 2017 10-Qs, which all use the same cut-and-paste language:

If we are unable to attract and/or retain key employees and hire qualified personnel, our ability to compete could be harmed.

The loss of the services of any of our key employees could disrupt our operations, delay the development and introduction of our vehicles and services, and negatively impact our business, prospects and operating results. In particular, we are highly dependent on the services of Elon Musk, our Chief Executive Officer, and Jeffrey B. Straubel, our Chief Technical Officer.

None of our key employees is bound by an employment agreement for any specific term and we may not be able to successfully attract and retain senior leadership necessary to grow our business. Our future success depends upon our ability to attract and retain executive officers and other key technology, sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and support personnel and any failure to do so could adversely impact our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.

Key talent may leave Tesla due to various factors, such as a very competitive labor market for talented individuals with automotive or technology experience. In California, Nevada and other regions where we have operations, there is increasing competition for individuals with skillsets needed for our business, including specialized knowledge of electric vehicles, software engineering, manufacturing engineering, and other skills such as electrical and building construction expertise. This competition affects both our ability to retain key employees and hire new ones. Our continued success depends upon our continued ability to hire new employees in a timely manner, especially to support our expansion plans and ramp to high-volume manufacture of vehicles, and retain current employees. Additionally, we compete with both mature and prosperous companies that have far greater financial resources than we do and start-ups and emerging companies that promise short-term growth opportunities. Difficulties in retaining current employees or recruiting new ones could have an adverse effect on our performance."

Based on my experience, every word and sentence in these documents is (or should have been) written and scrutinized by lawyers. Anything that's changed is the result of careful consideration and back-and-forth between management and the lawyers. So for the company to take out Straubel, who along with St. Elon and Deepak are the only named management at Tesla, and simply make a generic statement about key employees' retention means to this paranoid bear that Straubel may have given Elon his two weeks and like Doug Field is looking for greener pastures (note the mention above of no employment contracts with any of the key employees). If Straubel leaves, hilarity ensues. It will mean that the FUD has worked and the big inside boys know that Elon's dreams of reaching 5k/wk Model 3 production is a nightmare they want no part of.

Hats off to FUD!

Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.

Additional disclosure: I'm a stable genius.