The layoffs could affect about 14,000 of the 140,473 workers employed by the Austin, Texas, company at the end of last year. Photo courtesy of Tesla

After reporting dismal first-quarter sales, Tesla is planning to lay off about a tenth of its workforce as it tries to cut costs, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

CEO Elon Musk detailed the plans in a memo sent to employees. The layoffs could affect about 14,000 of the 140,473 workers employed by the Austin, Texas, company at the end of last year.

Musk's memo said that as Tesla prepares for its next phase of growth, “it is extremely important to look at every aspect of the company for cost reductions and increasing productivity,” The New York Times and CNBC reported. News of the layoffs was first reported by electric vehicle website Electrek.

Also Monday, two key Tesla executives announced on the social media platform X that they are leaving the company. Andrew Baglino, senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering, wrote that he had made the decision to leave after 18 years with the company.

Rohan Patel, senior global director of public policy and business development, also wrote on X that he was leaving Tesla, after eight years.

Baglino, who held several top engineering jobs at the company and was chief technology officer, wrote that the decision to leave was difficult. “I loved tackling nearly every problem we solved as a team and feel gratified to have contributed to the mission of accelerating the transition to sustainable energy,” he wrote.

He has no concrete plans beyond spending more time with family and his young children, but wrote that he has difficulty staying still for long.

Musk thanked Baglino in a reply. “Few have contributed as much as you,” he wrote.

Shares of Tesla fell 4.8 percent Monday afternoon, hours after news of the layoffs and departures broke. Shares of Tesla Inc. have lost about one-third of their value so far this year as sales of electric vehicles soften.

Tesla sales fell sharply last quarter as competition increased worldwide, electric vehicle sales growth slowed, and price cuts failed to draw more buyers. The company said it delivered 386,810 vehicles from January through March, nearly 9 percent below the 423,000 it sold in the same quarter of last year.

Since last year, Tesla has cut prices as much as $20,000 on some models as it faced increasing competition and slowing demand. The price cuts caused used electric vehicle values to drop and clipped Tesla's profit margins.

The company has said it will reveal an autonomous robotaxi at an event in August.

Next week's can't miss event? The Future of Global Energy Conference, hosted in various locations around the Greater Houston area and online. Photo via Getty Images

Can't miss: The Future of Global Energy Conference

ENERGY IS EVERYWHERE

June 7-9 | The Future of Global Energy Conference

To highlight Houston's role in the global energy transition, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Energy Transition Initiative, and Center for Houston's Future will host a dynamic three-day conference focusing on the role community engagement, innovation and technology, workforce, and funding play in implementing Houston's energy transition strategy.

Start the series off with a kickoff reception on Wednesday evening at The Ion, located in the heart of the Innovation Corridor in Houston's midtown from 5:30-7:00 PM. Next, keep your carbon footprint low by tuning in virtually to Thursday's multi-session series highlighting Community*, Workforce, Innovation & Tech, and Funding–components necessary to evaluate and blend for an energy-abundant, low-carbon future.

The event concludes Friday with an Innovation Expo, luncheon, and closing reception to further connect organizations, companies, and individuals committed to a more sustainable and equitable energy industry of the future.

Speakers and panelists from the Department of Energy, local public sector, industry, academia, and business/investor community will engage in thoughtful conversations throughout the series. Click here to view the full agenda and register.

*Note: The Community Engagement and Equity virtual session is open for live stream to the public. Please be sure to pre-register for online access.

For a complete list of upcoming energy events, visit the Events tab right here on EnergyCapitalHTX.com.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Chevron, TotalEnergies back energy storage startup's $15.8M series A

money moves

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

Houston innovation leaders secure SBA funding to start equitability-focused energy lab

trying for DEI

A group of Houston's innovation and energy leaders teamed up to establish an initiative supporting equitability in the energy transition.

Impact Hub Houston, a nonprofit incubator and ecosystem builder, partnered with Energy Tech Nexus to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities. The initiative announced that it's won the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, Stage One award.

"We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the SBA alongside our esteemed partners at Energy Tech Nexus," Grace Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, says in a news release. "This award validates our shared commitment to building a robust innovation ecosystem in Houston, especially for solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals at the critical intersections of industry, innovation, sustainability, and reducing inequality."

The GAFC award, which honors and supports small business research and development, provides $50,000 prize to its winners. The Houston collaboration aligns with the program's theme area of Sustainability and Biotechnology.

“This award offers us a great opportunity to amplify the innovations of Houston’s clean energy and decarbonization pioneers,” adds Juliana Garaizar, founding partner of the Energy Tech Nexus. “By combining Impact Hub Houston’s entrepreneurial resources with Energy Tech Nexus’ deep industry expertise, we can create a truly transformative force for positive change.”

Per the release, Impact Hub Houston and Energy Tech Nexus will use the funding to recruit new partners, strengthen existing alliances, and host impactful events and programs to help sustainable startups access pilots, contracts, and capital to grow.

"SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses," says U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Texas-based Tesla gets China's initial approval of self-driving software

global greenlight

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”