Randeep Hothi is a doctoral candidate in Asian languages and cultures at the University of Michigan
Randeep Hothi is a doctoral candidate in Asian languages and cultures at the University of Michigan

Randeep Hothi: The Indian American who sued Elon Musk

  • Randeep Hothi is a 2009 graduate of University of California, Berkeley. He's part of a global group that has vehemently criticised Elon Musk and Tesla. This group made up of ex-Tesla employees, students like Hothi, and other professionals.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Ayshee Bhaduri
PUBLISHED ON JAN 29, 2021 07:42 PM IST

In a surprising reversal of fortune, millionaire Elon Musk failed to stop a defamation lawsuit filed by Indian American graduate student Randeep Hothi. Hothi is a stringent critic of Musk and Tesla and was under the billionaire's scanner for two incidents -- a confrontation with a security guard at the company's Fremont plant and for posting photos of a Tesla car that Hothi claimed was following him around California.

Who is Randeep Hothi?

Randeep Hothi is a doctoral candidate in Asian languages and cultures at the University of Michigan and a frequent critic of Tesla. Hothi is interested in Sikh Studies, specifically on how the Sikh diaspora interacts with the world around them. He describes himself as “Investigating/Reporting on corporate fraud. Currently focusing on Tesla. DMs open for fellow travelers, reporters, whistleblowers, etc” on his Twitter profile.

Hothi is a 2009 graduate of t University of California, Berkeley, and his parents live in Fremont, where Tesla also has its auto plant. Hothi is part of a global group that has vehemently criticised Elon Musk and Tesla, this often leads to Twitter wars and online trolling. This group made up of ex-Tesla employees, students like Hothi, and other professionals tag themselves with the hashtag $TSLAQ.

Members of the TSLAQ tweet from anonymous accounts under pseudonyms. Hothi tweeted under the alias ‘@skabooshka’, but in 2018 his and his brother’s identities were revealed online by another anonymous account, which since the revelation hasn’t tweeted anything. His brother worked at Tesla’s rival firm Volkswagen reported Bloomberg but is no longer associated with them.

In 2019, Musk tweeted to Volkswagen about Hothi’s brother’s connection to the company, inviting speculation and racist attacks against Hothi and his family. After Musk's tweet to Volkswagen about Hothi’s brother’s connections to the company, Hothi too took to Twitter. “This is my promise. Tesla is a zero. @Elon Musk will go to prison,” he tweeted on April 20, 2019.

What does this win mean for Hothi?

Hothi hadn’t tweeted about Tesla since April last year due to the litigation. “The pendency of Tesla’s lawsuit against me makes it prudent for me to say little on Twitter at present,” he tweeted to his followers. After Judge Julia Spain’s judgment upheld his defamation suit against Musk, a possible return to Twitter might be on the cards for Hothi. He has demystified a lot of Tesla’s claims. He once flew a drone by a Tesla assembly tent to show that cars were being assembled inside by hand and not through automation as Musk had originally said. For Hothi and many others in the TSLAQ alliance, who have been crowdfunding to cover his legal fees, this win is no small suit.

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