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Tesla denies layoffs, but fires 10 percent of staff

The electric car company rids itself of employees not long after it was forced to delay the release of its electric sports car.

A few weeks ago, we asked Tesla Motors whether a pending departure of one employee we had heard about was part of a wave of layoffs at the company.

No, said Daryl Siry, vice president of marketing. It was an issue involving a particular individual.

It turns out that that more terminations were going on behind the scenes. Ousted Tesla CEO Martin Eberhard writes in his blog that 26 employees, including some vice presidents, have recently been cut from the company. That's about 10 percent of the company. The cuts come after Tesla was forced to delay the release of its car because of problems with the transmission and after new CEO Ze'ev Drori came to the company.

"But I just have to say something about the bloodbath going on over there right now, because it seems to be going largely unreported in the press. Just from the outside, I have seen the following people booted out in the last few days," Eberhard wrote. "Watch to see more fall in the coming weeks."

I suppose Tesla could argue that this wasn't a wave of layoffs. Who knows? You can also argue that performance-related terminations aren't really part of a layoff, and that Drori needs to get his own people inside the company. But who says that layoffs need to be economically related? Either way, a lot of people were told to go. (The conversation with Tesla, by the way, took place December 19, but the employee wasn't leaving for a few weeks.)

That's the second high-tech company to deny layoffs and then release employees. Miasole did the same thing a few weeks ago. I hope this isn't part of a trend.