Jessica Siron, who was a manager in Tesla’s environmental, health, and safety department, allegedly sent documents to her personal Gmail account three days after signing an offer letter from Rivian. Tesla claims Siron initially denied doing this when confronted by its investigative team, but that she admitted to sending one document when pressed. Tesla’s complaint is light on details about Rivian’s knowledge or encouragement of any wrongdoing, save for the case of Kim Wong, who was a staff recruiter at Tesla up until just a few weeks ago. Tesla claims Wong was contacted by a Rivian hiring manager who told her “Rivian did not have the recruiting templates, structures, formulas, or documents that would be needed” to grow the startup’s recruiting efforts, according to the complaint. The same day as that conversation, Tesla says Wong sent “at least sixteen highly confidential recruiting documents from Tesla’s network to her Gmail account,” including confidential Powerpoint presentations that contained details about the automaker’s recruiting and hiring process, as well as salary information.
Rivian’s associate general counsel, according to Tesla, took a “cavalier attitude” toward the accusations and “claimed that taking confidential information was common in the industry.” Rivian tells The Verge it disagrees with this framing. “In good faith, we discussed with Tesla the seriousness with which we take any allegation. This document misrepresents a conversation between counsel,” the spokesperson said. Tesla says in the lawsuit that it was able to figure all this out because its investigative team “recently acquired sophisticated electronic security monitoring tools.”
If this sounds familiar, it’s because a similar fight broke out in 2017 between Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber, where Waymo accused Anthony Levandowski of stealing troves of data about self-driving cars and conspiring with then-CEO Travis Kalanick to shepherd that data to Uber. It was eventually settled in early 2018.