This engineering team was created to expedite Giga Berlin’s construction and, since then, the elite team’s gained a cult-like following.
Tear apart a Tesla Model Y and you may find an Easter egg that reads, “Courtesy of the 25 Guns.”
As mentioned, similar to the U.S. Army’s Seal Team 6 or any elite fighting force, 25 Guns was created specifically to solve impossible tasks.
And, as the name suggests, there aren’t 24 or 100 members in this team, there are exactly 25.
So who are the 25 guns and what do they do?
Here’s everything I know.
Why 25 Guns is crucial to Tesla’s success.
To understand why the 25 Guns exist, it’s first important to know why Tesla is successful.
It’s wild to think about, but Tesla’s first car, the Model S, has only been on U.S. roads for 11 years now.
Tesla is practically an infant in terms of car manufacturer timelines.
Before Tesla, and prior to 1988 (AMC going out of business,) there hasn’t been a “successful” United States car manufacturer since.
And, there certainly hasn’t been a revenue producing electric car company.
Sure, there have been a handful of exciting new electric car companies to come along like Coda, Fisker, Aptera, and, as of late, Faraday, and Rivian.
But, they’ve either since gone out of business or are struggling to get off the ground.
It’s far easier to make a electric car prototype and a small run of cars than it is to make a car (an electric car, no doubt), and the machine that makes it.
I’m talking about factories, hiring and training a skilled workforce, and then adding on new models to make a lineup.
On top of that, a car company has to constantly be innovating.
Elon Musk has said this time and time again in speeches, interviews, and even on the Joe Rogan Podcast.
Here’s he is during the 2016 shareholder meeting saying just that.
“The most important point I want to make is that we’ve realized the true problem, the true difficulty, and where the greatest potential is, is building the machine that makes the machine.”
“In other words, building the factory and really thinking of the factory like a product, not a hodgepodge of things that are bought, like machines are bought from a catalog.”
“But, actually, just like we do with the car…we designed the car the way it should be, and then we make it.”
“I think this is the right approach to take when building the machine maker, the factory.”
It’s not that Tesla’s proven that they can design and launch a pretty good electric car, it’s the fact that they been able to scale up, making millions of Teslas a year in different areas of the world that makes them the number one EV manufacturer right now.
Oh, and they’ve arguably got the best charging infrastructure that’s itself constantly growing.
Tesla’s found success where others have failed simply because, through engineering, trial and error, and a little luck, they’ve gained the knowledge and experience to build the machine that makes the machine.
Before Gigafactory Berlin, Tesla built cars in a re-purposed plant in Fremont, CA, and another plant from scratch in Shanghai, China.
Tesla took the lessons learned from Shanghai and presumably applied and set to improve how well they can design and manufacture a factory in Berlin.
Unlike China, Germany is notorious for its construction and regulatory red tape.
This is where the 25 guns was birthed, created, and cut its teeth, they were created to facilitate the building of the machine that makes the machine.
Who are the 25 guns?
According to Electrek, 25 guns was created during the construction of Giga Berlin to not only problem solve to expedite construction, but to then be crucial in helping Tesla “launch revolutionary products on a massive scale.”
A LinkedIn post from Mutha S.,Infrastructure lead, engineering, procurement, and construction at Giga Factory Berlin, spelled it out in a now deleted 2020 LinkedIn post.
“At Giga Berlin, we’re planning to kick off a special, 25-person engineering task force that will be deployed wherever the toughest problems are, reporting directly to Elon.
Only requirements are:
1. Proof of demonstrated, exceptional engineering talent
2. Being a great problem-solver / having an unconventional approach to problem-solving
3. Energized to make amazing things happen”
Not only that, Musk interviewed candidates of this elite team himself!
When sending your resume, please describe a few of the hardest problems you solved & exactly how you solved them— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2020
Since then, besides some environmental issues Tesla’s Europe team overcame, Gigafactory Berlin opened and, as of this blog post, is producing up to 5,000 Teslas a week.
That’s a fraction of its real manufacturing capabilities, as Berlin can supposedly make up to 2M Teslas a year.
I guess that’s where 25 Guns comes in, making sure issues in scaling up production are dealt with and fixed ASAP.
Although no one from Tesla explained why 25, there are theories.
A good one comes from Journalist Owen Sparks who posits that 25 is an ideal sweet spot for engineering teams.
Too few engineers and they get overwhelmed and the project misses deadline. Too many engineers, too many cooks in the kitchen, project misses deadline.— Owen Sparks (@OwenSparks_) July 19, 2023
While research suggests the ideal team size is between 5-8, it’s fair to say that Tesla isn’t your average company.
When you consider Tesla employees 130,000, 10,000 of those in Giga Berlin, and they’re tasked with manufacturing innovative products, a Tesla team of 25 engineers might be the average company’s 5-8.
There’s also at least one research paper that suggests that 25 is the absolute max size a team can theoretically be before there are, “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
Are the 25 Guns hiring?
As of this blog post, yes.
If you navigate to job listing at Gigafactory Berlin and, under manufacturing, you’ll find a listing for 25-guns.
Here’s a screenshot of the listing, just in case they eventually fill up their team.
“Here we will launch revolutionary products on a massive scale, using extraordinary speed, innovation, and efficiency. Our employees will ensure that we achieve our goals, and we welcome you to help us write the next chapter of our success story.”
Reading the description and you cannot be just any engineer, you have to be the best of the best of the best engineer out there. Sir.
Not only do you have to solve problems in a variety of fields, you have to be a master communicator too, a people person, if you will.
This arguably might be even more important than actual problem-solving.
The second most important task listed is to:
“Connect with relevant stakeholders and build cross-functional relationships at all levels within Tesla”
And, to maintain those relationships, you have to…
“Communicate status updates on a regular basis to relevant stakeholders.”
If you’re the world’s best engineer but can’t communicate with team members, Tesla stakeholders, and Musk himself (someone who’s not one to mince words,) you’re not 25-guns material.
You probably can find a role elsewhere in Tesla, but not on the 25-guns team.
And, you can’t be a 25-guns member in Giga Berlin if you can’t speak German, as the last qualification in the list of 10 is to be,
“Fluent in English, German language skills are beneficial.”
While it hints that you don’t have to learn German, I don’t think anyone who applies will not have a mastery of the German language when they submit their resume.
A “can-do attitude and a maniacal sense of urgency,” is also a qualification as above all else, Tesla’s mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
What kind of education and experience do you need to get hired as a 25 Guns engineer?
Surprisingly, I was able to find a handful of profiles from actual 25 Guns engineers with a quick Google search.
What I found is all current 25 Guns engineers are relatively young, highly educated , and with multiple years of work experience, often in leadership positions.
Take this guy (name redacted,) at just 25 he’s already got his Masters in Mechanical engineering with 5 years of relevant work experience before becoming a 25 Guns team member.
Most of his positions are relevant to what Tesla is trying to do, typically combining automotive and project management.
Here’s another profile of a 25 Guns team member. This guy’s 35 years old, has his master’s in Software Engineering and Information Systems, and has since held leadership positions in various tech companies, including starting his own.
A candidate for the 25 Guns position has to have a proven track record of delivering results. While most of these guys have degrees, it’s experience that counts, and I can see Musk cutting you some slack on that front if you can actually execute.
Then again, these guys aren’t going to college just to go to college, they know what they want to do, are getting experience while studying, and are ready to hit the ground running the day after they get their diploma.
What are the 25-guns doing now?
For Tesla to achieve its mission to be the most compelling car company of the 21st century by making EVs, it’s going to need more, more, more of everything.
That means, as battery technology improves and costs go down, Tesla will improve its lineup, add to the lineup, open even more factories to make said cars, and expand its charging network to support even more rapid growth.
Tesla also has plans to finally produce the electric car for the people, a $25,000 electric car they plan to make up to 4 million units of that Tesla hopes to announce soon.
This will catapult Tesla into another level and you better believe it, they’re going to need the 25-Guns to be deployed wherever Tesla encounters issues on the way to electric car market domination.
If you want to be the best engineer the world’s ever seen, shooting to be a member of the 25-Guns team is a pretty good goal.