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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – When Tesla Inc announced last month a second round of job cuts to rein in costs, one crucial department was particularly badly hit. The automaker more than halved the division that delivers its electric vehicles to North American customers, two of the laid-off workers said.
FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
Some 150 employees out of a team of about 230 were let go in January at the Las Vegas facility that gets tens of thousands of Model 3s into the hands of U.S. and Canadian buyers, they said, in a sign the company expected the pace of deliveries to significantly slow in the near term.
The cuts, which have not been previously reported, could fuel investor worries that demand for the Model 3 in the United States has tailed off after a large tax break for consumers expired last year and the car remains too expensive for most consumers.
Tesla has said its focus this quarter is on supplying cars to customers waiting in China and Europe.
“There are not enough deliveries,” one of the former employees told Reuters. “You don’t need a team because there are not that many cars coming through.”
Delivery of the Model 3 was the company’s key priority in the latter half of 2018, as Tesla tried to supply all buyers wanting the full benefit of the $ 7,500 U.S. tax credit before it was cut in half at year’s end.
The Model 3 is crucial to Tesla’s plans for long-term profitability. The company aims to post a profit in each quarter this year, based on the expectation that it will sell more Model 3s and continue to cut costs.
Tesla declined to comment on the job reductions in the delivery team. The company still has an undisclosed number of delivery personnel attached to other locations.
‘EVERY BEING ON THE PLANET’
Even before the paring back of the delivery team, investors questioned the level of demand for the Model 3 remaining after Tesla’s all-out push to supply buyers ahead of the tax credit cut.
“Given the need for revenue to cover costs and generate cash, the financial community should be focused on the level of demand for Tesla vehicles – in particular the Model 3,” wrote Barclays analyst Brian Johnson in January.
The two former delivery workers said the 2018 sales push has left Tesla’s reservations list plucked clean of North American buyers willing to pay current prices of over $ 40,000 to get their hands on a Model 3.
Chief Executive Elon Musk initially said in 2016 the car would start at $ 35,000 – which sparked a rush of reservations – but Tesla has yet to actually sell any cars at that price, despite two price cuts already this year.
“We sold through just about every car we had on the ground and we called almost every being on the planet who had ever expressed desire to own a Tesla to let them know the tax credit was expiring,” said the other ex-employee.
Tesla workers around the company were reassigned to pitch in, that source said.
“They said, ‘Your job is off the table now, we have to get these cars delivered. Because if we don’t get these cars delivered, you don’t have a job tomorrow,’” the former employee said.
HALF A MILLION BUYERS
At the Model 3 launch in July 2017, Musk said over half a million buyers had put down deposits on the new car. That helped send Tesla shares up almost 15 percent over the following six weeks.
The company delivered 145,610 Model 3s in 2018, but all of them at prices far above $ 35,000. Musk said last week a $ 35,000 version that could be sold profitably was perhaps six months away. Even with two price cuts this year, the lowest price tag on a Model 3 is now $ 42,900.
Musk maintains that Model 3 demand is “insanely high,” but his company has not released any figures to demonstrate that.
Asked about the reservations list last week by analysts, outgoing Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja declined to disclose how many people remained, calling it “not relevant.”
Musk has said Tesla has multiple ways of stoking demand, if it chose to, such as offering leases or boosting marketing efforts.
The Model 3s now rolling out of Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory are going to Chinese and European buyers, Tesla says.
The two laid-off employees said delivery targets for North America – made up of mostly U.S. buyers – this quarter would be 55 percent to 60 percent of what they were in the last quarter of 2018.
If Tesla does not cut prices soon, it risks losing potential customers – and ones already on its reservation list – to a slew of German and Asian competitors whose electric vehicles will hit the U.S. market this year. Each of the new entrant’s first 200,000 buyers will be eligible for a full federal subsidy.
Having met that number already, the U.S. tax credit for Tesla buyers drops in half to $ 3,750 for the first six months of 2019, then falls by half again in the second six months.
Musk said last month his “rough guess” was that Tesla would begin building the $ 35,000 Model 3 in mid-2019.
One of the sources said that could recharge U.S. demand: “If there was a Model 3 for $ 35,000 that was still a really good car, that blows away the competition, I could see demand going through the roof.”
Reporting by Alexandria Sage in San Francisco; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Bill Rigby
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Chinese video app Tik Tok, the most downloaded app globally on Apple Inc’s app store in January-March, will set up a team of censors in Indonesia to overturn a ban imposed for “inappropriate content”, local media reported on Thursday.
The app is popular among young people for its homemade music videos. But access was blocked on Tuesday by authorities in Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, for featuring content deemed pornographic and blasphemous.
Minister of Communication and Informatics Rudiantara told Reuters that the ban was temporary and could be lifted after Tik Tok cleaned up its content.
“We’ve asked Tik Tok to build a system that filters negative content and want them to have a liaison office in Indonesia,” the minister said on Thursday.
Tik Tok is operated by venture-capitalist backed Toutiao, one of China’s fastest-growing technology startups valued at over $ 30 billion, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
A Toutiao spokesperson told media on Wednesday that Tik Tok would set up a team of 20 censors in Indonesia charged with monitoring and sanitizing content.
The firm’s vice president, Zhen Liu, was quoted by newspaper Tempo as saying Toutiao would add up to 200 employees to Tik Tok’s Indonesia office by the end of the year.
Rudiantara would not confirm to Reuters whether the changes would be sufficient to lift the ban.
Reuters could not reach Toutiao or Tik Tok for comment on Thursday.
Reporting by Cindy Silviana & Fanny PotkinEditing by Christopher Cushing
Make yourself indispensable to your clients and employers. You’ve heard it before. But we live in a fast paced, global economy. And it’s easier and faster than ever to replace a talented individual. This means it’s harder than ever before to become indispensable. There’s an easier way that doesn’t involve being a super talented genius.
You don’t need to be indispensable to be indispensable. You need merely to hold the only set of keys to essential elements of ongoing business.
The Problem With The Indispensable Argument
Even if you are indispensable, do your clients really believe that?
Companies large and small fire people all the time without knowing how critical they were to the business. People are irrational. And if so motivated, they’ll fire you even at considerable harm to their business. It’s not enough to be indispensable, you need to back it up with strong, material leverage.
What is material leverage?
In business terms, material leverage in business terms is an assisted advantage that exists outside of yourself but is perceived by others. The principle is simple. You legitimately own or control the linchpin of an ongoing transaction, or business and use it to influence terms of an engagement.
Examples include effective control over partnerships, pipelines, websites, apps, platforms, or databases. Or perhaps you have contacts that are essential to the other party’s operations.
Strong vs. Weak vs. No Leverage
The key to understanding the power of leverage usually rests on the amount of time, energy and attention required to replace whatever linchpin you own or control. The more time required, the more powerful the leverage.
No or Weak Leverage
If the resource that you own or control can be easily replaced in a day, you effectively have no leverage. If there is a whole marketplace full of easy alternatives, or the perception of one, you have no effective leverage or at best weak leverage.
Perception is more powerful than the reality. If the other party doesn’t perceive or understand the leverage, they won’t respond to your influence over it.
A good measure of strong leverage is if its value is worth more than your annual salary or fee. If your leverage is perceived to be worth 5x your fee, then they will likely bend your way. Not doing so would risk costing them considerably more. That’s strong leverage.
When & How to Use it
Basically if someone isn’t paying their tab, trying to cut you out, or you feel you’re about to be fired, strong material leverage can come into play.
Step 1. You have to decide what your goal is.
Are you trying to use your influence to keep a good deal going and growing, or is it time for you to cut ties? Decide now.
Step 2. Let them hear the branch creak.
Use your leverage as influence to resolve issues and negotiate, not to bully anyone. Do this by letting those involved hear the branch creak. This means to hint just enough of your potentially hazardous move to cause them to rethink their course of action.
If your goal is to keep things going, then you need to think of the use of strong leverage as more of a dance. It’s not a battle, it’s about keeping the appropriate amount of tension and pressure to move with your partner.
If the goal is to keep profitable engagements going as long as possible, don’t wield your leverage like a sword in battle. You may feel superior to the other party in the moment but you’ll lose the value of ongoing transactions with those involved in the process.
This is a more subtle art. The other party needs to hear the branch creak and contemplate their own peril. You need merely hint at your leverage and let them worry about perilous outcomes.
Remember, leverage only works if they and you both stay in the tree.
Step 3. Make the corrective action clearly known.
If you’re too aggressive, the other party may see no path forward and impulsively jump out of the tree on their own. They need to hear both the branch creak and know the corrective solution to make it stop.
If you decide to cut ties, the first move is usually not to pull the rug out from anyone. A longer exit, is often more profitable. Leverage allows you to negotiate the terms of an exit. You may have the other party simply pay you to keep your resources in play. This is more amenable as it buys everyone time to decide what to do next.
No one likes being under someone else’s thumb. But leverage buys you a seat at the table and an engaged audience, ensuring you can be heard out. Tread softly and carry a big stick.
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