Nikola founder Trevor Milton convinced the world he was the next Elon Musk. Insiders say a history of lies brought the billionaire down.
  • Trevor Milton left Nikola after he became once accused of lying and exaggerating about its products.
  • Simply filings and interviews with 38 of us counsel Milton has a historic previous of bending the truth.
  • His guests protect him, announcing he’s misunderstood. Milton declined to remark on this memoir.
  • Consult with the Trade piece of Insider for more reports.

Trevor Milton became once minutes from showing the sector the achievement of his childhood dream. It hadn’t been a really easy street. He’d failed out of high college, dropped out of faculty, watched his mom and step-mom die sooner than his 22nd birthday, and gotten sued by the individual that looked ready to present him his astronomical damage as an entrepreneur.

Now, sooner than a crowd of 600, in December 2016, Milton became once about to boast that Nikola, his scrappy two-one year-archaic startup, had made a fully functioning, zero-emission semi-truck sooner than someone else. It became once known as the Nikola One. In Milton’s words, it became once “by a long way essentially the most cutting-edge truck ever in-constructed historic previous.” He’d been excited by it since he became once 6.

Wearing blue chinos and a delicate-crimson costume shirt, his sleeves rolled up and brown hair slicked to at least one aspect, Milton did now not comprise the polish of a Steve Jobs or Mary Barra. He talked a piece too fast, nonetheless did so with the conviction of somebody who had spent the previous two years progressively worthwhile over supporters.

Twenty-5 minutes into his presentation Milton left the stage. The lights dimmed, and the white sheet overlaying the One came off. Attendees stood, snapped photos, and applauded as Milton returned. He looked on the truck, laughed, and wiped his face alongside with his palms.

He acknowledged, “Oh, that aspect is so awesome.”

Because the level to drew to a shut, Milton emphasized a level he’d made earlier. The automobile on the wait on of him did now not accurate observe chilly; it labored. That you just would be in a position to drive it off the stage. “You are going to comprise a look at that this is a true truck,” he acknowledged. “This is no longer a pusher,” or a nonworking prototype wheeled out for level to.

But that became once a lie.

If you sat on the wait on of the wheel and keep your foot on the accelerator, the truck would no longer pass. It would possibly perchance per chance per chance perchance well now not. Milton’s no longer-a-pusher became once very worthy a pusher.

Markus Scholten, an engineer who helped plot the One, had warned Milton sooner than the occasion that misleading the target market would draw wait on to hang-out him, nonetheless Milton brushed him off, Scholten suggested Insider.

Trevor Milton

Milton acknowledged the Nikola One prototype unveiled in 2016 would possibly perchance perchance well drive below its have energy. Nikola would later jabber that wasn’t accurate.

Nikola


Over the next four years, Milton’s celebrity rose as Nikola raised a billion greenbacks in funding and assembled a blue-chip roster of partners and prospects. By 2020, Milton, the serial entrepreneur who’d began four corporations sooner than Nikola and offered two of them, became once being when put next to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

But final June, Bloomberg became once the principle to chronicle that the One prototype Milton unveiled in 2016 would possibly perchance perchance well now not drive below its have energy. Three months later, Hindenburg Analysis, a financial-research firm that calls out corporations it thinks comprise misbehaved, acknowledged Milton had an extended historic previous of bending the truth.

Milton denied the allegations, nonetheless they hung over him except, a minute over per week later, he resigned from the corporate that made him a billionaire, sooner than it delivered a single truck.

At a time when brash tech founders are upending established industries from aviation to food production, Milton sought to record himself as a visionary with a game-changing idea. Cherish Musk, Milton has constructed a occupation on ambitious bets, an intense work ethic, and an uncensored public persona.

Whereas Musk’s foibles comprise draw paired with unbelievable results, Milton’s comprise produced a mixed document. He’s had more success than most entrepreneurs, nonetheless allegations of exaggeration, misbehavior, and dishonesty comprise followed him correct thru his occupation.

Reckoning on who’s describing him, Milton is either generous, ambitious, and scary, or undisciplined, dishonest, and callous. Insider spoke with 38 of us which comprise labored for Milton or interacted with him, together with guests, traders, and former workers. (Many spoke on situation of anonymity for grief of repercussions, nonetheless their identities are identified to Insider.)

Those two facets comprise clashed correct thru Milton’s occupation, allowing him to compose a $2 billion fortune whereas leaving a path of traders and replace partners who felt they’d been burned.

By a spokesperson, Milton declined to remark on this memoir. Nikola also declined to remark.

A tough launch

Born in Utah in 1982, Milton had what at instances became once a difficult childhood. When he became once a baby, his household moved to Las Vegas, where he had wretchedness making guests and became a really easy target for bullies, a childhood buddy acknowledged. 

Milton and his four siblings moved to a farm in Kanab, Utah, when he became once 8, on memoir of his mom, who had most cancers, did now not must die within town. She died when Milton became once 14. Milton’s father, Invoice, remarried, and that girl also died of most cancers, when Trevor became once 21.

Even after the Miltons moved to Utah, Invoice persevered to work in Nevada, four hours from their new home, forcing Milton and his siblings to change into more self-enough. “I did now not comprise of us there to protect up me,” Milton acknowledged final one year on “The Sign Haney Podcast.” “I needed to entire it myself.”

Unable to offer palms-on guidance your entire time, Milton’s of us made it determined that they believed in him and would no longer rating upset when he failed. To Invoice, making a mistake became once ideal. Lying about it became once no longer.

Trevor’s entrepreneurial instincts kicked in correct thru classic college, where he offered candy he offered with money borrowed from his father. But he struggled within the school room and later failed out of high college. After getting his GED and going on an 18-month service mission in Brazil (Milton grew up within the Mormon church), he attended Utah Valley College for one semester sooner than falling by the wayside.

“I became once no longer made for school,” Milton acknowledged final one year on “The Founder Hour” podcast. “It accurate did now not match me. I hated it.”

Trevor Milton

Milton would possibly perchance perchance just comprise struggled in college, nonetheless his powers of persuasion made him a celebrity entrepreneur.

Nikola


If Milton became once no longer constructed for academia, he match the profile of a startup founder: full of life, optimistic, extroverted. His colossal ability, primarily based on those who know him, is persuasion. Even former workers who hate him marveled at his ability to make of us imagine in him.

“He would possibly perchance perchance well promote snow to an Eskimo with no need rating entry to to snow,” a former employee of 1 of Milton’s early startups acknowledged.

But in his eagerness to compose his corporations, Milton has shown an inclination to blur, and maybe even step over, the street between optimism and deception.

Those who’ve labored with or otherwise know Milton jabber he has lied to hang his recognition, misled partners and coworkers about his corporations’ products, and claimed he and his workers constructed parts they offered from suppliers.

“As you’re employed closely with him, you launch to comprise a look at that he struggles to inform the truth about anything,” a former coworker acknowledged.

A pattern emerges

In 2006, when Milton became once 24, he offered his first company, St. George Security & Alarms, which offered video surveillance and dread methods. The purchaser, Glen Pilz, became once presently dejected. He obtained a few hideous surprises after taking on, he suggested The Wall Facet street Journal, treasure workers who did now not comprise ethical certification and a $30,000 contract he says Milton had presented to him as a performed deal nonetheless which the corporate hadn’t won.

“The books were no longer what they acknowledged they were,” Pilz suggested CNN. Pilz bet every greenback he’d saved on the corporate, he acknowledged. By the stop, he says he lost $300,000 and had his home foreclosed on twice. (Pilz did now not reply to Insider’s requests for an interview.)

Milton moved on, starting two corporations that had nothing in long-established alongside with his first startup, or every varied, in 2009. One, uPillar, became once an e-commerce put; the assorted, dHybrid, made gasoline methods for heavy-accountability trucks. In response to of us that labored for the corporations, both Trevor’s childhood and interpersonal abilities confirmed within the technique he ran them. Some workers acknowledged he had a knack for maintaining them motivated and would make gestures of appreciation treasure procuring for them lunch or upgrading them to first class on replace journeys. Others felt that he would possibly perchance perchance well be an impulsive, undisciplined micromanager.

uPillar resembled a mash-up of eBay, Autos.com, Indeed, Zillow, and Match.com, where customers would possibly perchance perchance well promote unwanted gadgets, apply for jobs, pick a automobile, shop for a home, and attach with singles procuring for be pleased. Milton aggressively promoted the put, promoting on Glenn Beck’s radio level to, organizing an strive and damage the document for the sector’s largest foolish-string fight, and holding a contest whose winner got a time out to Hawaii.

In Milton’s telling, uPillar failed on memoir of it became once too worthwhile too like a flash. Working out of Utah as an different of Silicon Valley made it laborious to hang money fast enough to maintain with the put’s growth.

“We had 80 million of us on our put, and we collapsed on memoir of we would possibly perchance perchance well now not take care of the site visitors,” Milton acknowledged on “The Sign Haney Podcast.” “We would comprise change into Amazon if we would were in a site to are living thru it.”

But four of us that labored for or with uPillar acknowledged the put did now not rating worthy traction. Milton’s jabber, in an interview final one year with Forbes, that uPillar had attracted bigger than 80 million guests a month, became once unbelievable, the four of us acknowledged. A 2011 blog submit from a site plot and marketing firm acknowledged uPillar on the time became once receiving about 200,000 visits a month, citing files from Compete.com, a put that measured website online visitors sooner than shutting down in 2016.

“I accurate develop no longer ponder that the corporate became once ever heading within the correct direction to be the colossal labeled put that he had envisioned and hoped that it can perchance well be,” acknowledged Travis Benson, who labored as an online developer for uPillar.

Trevor Milton

Milton acknowledged uPillar had more success than it can perchance well take care of. Some of those who labored for the corporate disagreed.

Isaac Sloan/Nikola


dHybrid fared greater, nonetheless no longer sooner than a doable buyer sued after getting the same feeling Pilz did, that Milton had promised bigger than he would possibly perchance perchance well bring.

The corporate made gasoline methods that mixed inexpensive pure gasoline with diesel, promising truck operators gasoline savings of 30% or more — a astronomical deal in an replace with slim earnings margins. In response to Yahoo Finance, Michael Shrout, a Utah inventor and early dHybrid employee, developed the startup’s technology. On the opposite hand it became once Milton who offered others on the tech. Before Milton pitched him, one dHybrid investor wrote three checks — one for $20,000 and two for $10,000 every — in doubt of how worthy he’d must make a contribution. By the level Milton became once thru, the investor became once so excited he handed him all three.

As Milton searched for funding in dreary 2009, he met Jerry Moyes, the CEO of Swift Transportation, one of the considerable largest trucking corporations within the US. In a counterclaim dHybrid later filed per a lawsuit from Swift, dHybrid alleged that Moyes laid out a imaginative and prescient of the 2 touring in his deepest jet, selling dHybrid’s gasoline machine to the transportation replace’s astronomical shots. dHybrid alleged that Moyes suggested Milton he would possibly perchance perchance well have faith him to make dHybrid worthwhile. (In a acknowledge to dHybrid’s counterclaim, Swift agreed that Moyes suggested Milton they’ll soar together on a private jet, nonetheless denied that Moyes acknowledged he’d make dHybrid worthwhile.)

The 2 corporations signed a deal that gave Swift the likelihood to protect as much as $250 million value of dHybrid gasoline methods if it became once pleased with the technique they labored. As fragment of the agreement, Swift paid dHybrid a $2 million approach to continue developing its technology and install gasoline methods on trucks in squawk that Swift would possibly perchance perchance well take a look at them.

Over the next two years their relationship fell apart as Swift declined to protect dHybrid’s gasoline methods and Milton’s startup became increasingly reckoning on Swift for loans. In 2012, Swift sued dHybrid for breach of contract, alleging the corporate’s executives had spent some of the $2 million draw in solutions that had nothing to entire with the work Swift became once paying it for. Meanwhile, Swift alleged, dHybrid’s tech had triggered engine issues and did now not comprise the “technical efficiencies or capabilities” the startup had marketed.

dHybrid denied Swift’s allegations in a counterclaim, alleging Swift became once the individual that had violated its contract by failing to compose the specified vehicles for attempting out and interfering with dHybrid’s efforts to hang money. Swift, dHybrid alleged, had tried to drive it into financial bother in squawk that it can perchance well pick its tech at a cut tag. (In a acknowledge to dHybrid’s counterclaim, Swift denied dHybrid’s allegations.) The 2 corporations dropped their claims against every varied in 2015.

Still, a pattern looked as if it can perchance well be rising: Milton had a reward for selling his corporations’ doable, and, primarily based on some, a behavior of record too rosy a image. 

Trevor’s comeback

The fight with Swift left Milton in a disturbing put. The corporate that had once looked as if it can perchance well be his imprint to the Fortune 500 had turned against him, leaving dHybrid scared by the burden of never-ending lawful filings. At dinner with a chum, Milton broke down and sobbed, the buddy acknowledged. dHybrid became once losing money Milton had raised from household and guests, and he did now not know what to entire about it.

Then he found a technique out.

In dreary 2012, Milton’s father registered a new company, tweaking dHybrid’s title and mission. dHybrid Programs would promote gasoline methods that feeble handiest pure gasoline, as an different of ones that jumbled in diesel. In 2014, the Miltons offered dHybrid Programs to the manufacturing company Worthington Industries for $12 million. (Trevor later claimed that dHybrid Programs offered for “worthy bigger than $20 million.”)

Trevor Milton

After tweaking dHybrid’s replace mannequin, Milton moved on from the Swift lawsuit.

Massimo Pinca/Reuters


Worthington presently had a grief on its palms. Many of the dHybrid gasoline methods wanted to be repaired on memoir of the brackets that secured them to a truck would damage, four former Worthington workers acknowledged. Two of those former Worthington workers acknowledged that a chronicle, ready by an engineer Milton had employed, gave the impression nothing became once crude with them. 

In a 2015 financial submitting, Worthington acknowledged dHybrid’s intangible resources — together with its “technological know-how,” relationships with prospects, and notify backlog — once valued at $2.9 million, were now value accurate $600,000. In March 2016, Worthington acknowledged it had made $1.5 million in warranty funds associated to the dHybrid acquisition in a recent three-month duration.

“We stand by our public filings and develop no longer comprise any extra files to add,” a Worthington spokesperson acknowledged.

Three of us that invested within the principle dHybrid suggested Insider additionally they obtained execrable news after the Worthington acquisition: Their shares did now not entitle them to any fragment of the $12 million payout. Though dHybrid and dHybrid Programs had identical products, they were technically separate corporations.

Milton would later jabber he reimbursed a good deal of the traders he became once in a site to rating in touch with, nonetheless two of us that keep money into dHybrid acknowledged they were never paid wait on, and two of Milton’s household contributors acknowledged some of their household contributors had lost money on their investments. 

Milton had pissed off some of those traders long sooner than the Worthington sale. Two acknowledged they spent years asking him to ship them stock certificates documenting their stakes in his corporations, nonetheless never obtained them. A Third investor made a identical allegation in a 2010 counterclaim to a suit Milton had filed against him. Milton denied the investor’s allegation.

Nikola takes off

Sign Russell became once Worthington’s COO when he persuaded the corporate to protect dHybrid. He became Milton’s boss after the deal closed, and imagined guiding Milton thru the ranks at Worthington. Then, one day, Milton walked into Russell’s put of business and suggested him he became once going to originate “the semi-truck of the long drag,” Russell suggested Insider. If Russell were graceful, Milton acknowledged, he’d make investments in Milton’s new company. (Russell suggested Bloomberg that he successfully encouraged Worthington to change into one of Nikola’s earliest traders.)

Milton had been excited by electrical semis for bigger than two decades. In a 2019 interview with Vans.com, he acknowledged that once he became once 6 years archaic, he became once at work alongside with his father, who became once then a railroad manager for Union Pacific. An engineer there defined to Milton how a locomotive ran on electricity generated by diesel gasoline. The engineer pointed to a nearby semi and acknowledged that one day any individual would pick out easy make it, too, drag on electricity.

“That became once my lightbulb,” Milton suggested Vans.com. “I made up my mind accurate then that at some point soon I could perchance perchance compose that locomotive semi. The following 30 years were all about making ready myself.”

Milton primarily based Nikola in 2014 and began specializing within the corporate stout time in 2015, primarily based on his LinkedIn profile. For a one year, he feeble his home in Salt Lake City as the corporate’s headquarters, with laptop methods strewn correct thru his basement and kitchen.

Nikola struggled to stop afloat in its early years, forcing Milton and his father to rating out mortgages on their properties to protect the corporate alive. At one level, Milton has acknowledged, the corporate became once days away from financial bother sooner than securing a serious $30 million fundraising spherical. As is long-established with startup founders, his life became consumed with getting Nikola off the bottom, acknowledged Michael Fleming, who’s been guests with Milton for a decade.

“There were a pair years there where he accurate labored,” Fleming acknowledged. “He became once 100% work.”

Milton aloof had an inclination to magnify, some who labored for him acknowledged. Two contractors who helped compose the One semi-truck prototype acknowledged Milton would converse guests to Nikola’s headquarters that the corporate had developed parts that it had in truth offered from suppliers, such as the One’s motors and inverters.

Nikola announced the One in May just 2016. Within two months, the truck racked up over 7,000 reservations, and the corporate scheduled its unveiling for December. Milton wished a fully functioning prototype for the occasion, and he wished it in-constructed about six months, acknowledged one contractor who labored on the auto. One of these job would in most cases rating 18 to 24 months, the contractor acknowledged.

That operate became more durable to reach in August, when Nikola announced the truck would no longer spend pure gasoline, diesel, or gasoline, nonetheless as an different hydrogen, which required a new gasoline machine. Come December, the truck had none of the parts wished to store or compose energy from hydrogen, nonetheless Milton, two contractors acknowledged, had any individual keep a sticker on the auto that indicated it did.

Nikola One

Two contractors acknowledged the Nikola One prototype unveiled in 2016 lacked the parts wished to store hydrogen, despite a sticker that acknowledged otherwise.

Nikola


Milton made varied questionable strikes, treasure hiring his brother, Travis, who did now not appear to entire worthy, two most well-liked Nikola workers acknowledged. (When contacted by Insider, Travis declined to remark.)

But, primarily based on some of those who labored for him, Milton aloof had a ability for connecting alongside with his workers. When Nikola became once working out of Milton’s basement and doubts began to plot about the corporate’s prospects, he knew easy protect his personnel motivated, Scholten acknowledged. And even as he began to attract more consideration, Milton did now not undertake an air of superiority. One former employee described him as friendly and approachable, and acknowledged he felt he can comprise walked into Milton’s put of business unannounced and began a dialog without bothering him.

In the years after Nikola unveiled the One, it would add Bosch, Anheuser-Busch, US Xpress, and Iveco to its listing of partners and reservation-holders. Milton even recruited Sign Russell, the Worthington COO who’d temporarily been his boss, to change into Nikola’s president.

As Nikola grew, so did Milton’s ambitions. As well to to constructing semi trucks and fueling stations, he wished to make an off-street militia automobile, a jet ski, and a pickup. Those aspect tasks did now not make sense to a pair workers, who idea they were taking resources from Nikola’s core products. (Nikola has in contemporary months stopped engaged on those tasks.)

Whereas Nikola aloof had plenty of labor ahead sooner than it can perchance well launch to bring on Milton’s targets, MIlton began talking as if he’d already met them.

“We now comprise already changed the sector of transportation with the hydrogen truck,” Milton acknowledged final one year in an interview. “We now comprise accomplished all the pieces I’ve ever dreamed of in my life with that.”

In a single other interview he acknowledged, “We’re the principle company to entire stout production of a nil-emission truck,” even though Nikola had acknowledged in a Securities and Exchange Commission submitting that production for its first mannequin would no longer launch for one other one year. “We beat Daimler, we beat Volvo, we beat Tesla, we beat all people.”

In March 2020, Milton took the next astronomical step: agreeing to rating Nikola public by merging with VectoIQ, a favorable-cause acquisition company, or

SPAC
. At that level, Nikola became once producing lower than $500,000 in earnings a one year, all of which came from installing solar panels. Some of those panels went to Milton, who paid a entire of $500,000 for “solar installation companies and products” in 2018 and 2019.

The merger introduced Nikola over $700 million, bigger than your entire money it had raised previously, and left it with an enterprise value of about $3.3 billion. It also made Milton a billionaire, nonetheless tag him the CEO role: Some early traders admired Milton’s imaginative and prescient and fundraising abilities, nonetheless did now not he ponder he had the operational abilities to rating Nikola’s vehicles within the street, Bloomberg reported. Russell became CEO, whereas Milton remained the chairman of Nikola’s board of directors. Milton acknowledged he did now not mind the pass. It allowed him to heart of attention on the astronomical image whereas leaving the administrative obligations that did now not excite him to Russell, who, Milton successfully-known in interviews, aloof reported to him.

In August, with two partnerships and a new buyer to train, besides a pickup truck to unveil, Milton had a correct feeling about the relaxation of the one year.

“The following four months,” he suggested CNBC, “are going to be the finest four months in Nikola’s historic previous.”

Trevor Milton

Milton became once optimistic within the weeks sooner than Hindenburg Analysis printed a serious chronicle about him and Nikola.

Isaac Sloan/Nikola


Most critics were innocuous. One became once no longer.

With Nikola’s rising profile came elevated consideration from skeptics. 

“It is no longer in truth no longer doable that Nikola will eventually develop into this valuation, nonetheless this would possibly perchance perchance just require a long way more even than the worthwhile execution of its most well-liked, ambitious idea,” a Wall Facet street Journal columnist wrote in June. “Nikola: Vaporware Selling For ~$25 Billion,” read a July headline from a Searching for Alpha contributor.

Milton, on the time an avid tweeter, became preoccupied alongside with his doubters. He’s long been sensitive to criticism, 5 of us which comprise labored for him acknowledged, and proper thru interviews he would in most cases bring up Nikola’s critics unprompted and discuss about them at size. 

Whereas most of them were innocuous, one became once no longer.

On September 10, two days after Nikola announced a partnership with GM, the financial-research firm Hindenburg Analysis printed a lengthy chronicle outlining why it became once short-selling Nikola stock. Hindenburg acknowledged that Nikola and Milton had a historic previous of exaggerations and misrepresentations about the corporate’s products. In a single 2018 video, Hindenburg acknowledged, a Nikola One prototype that looked as if it can perchance well be driving below its have energy became once merely rolling down a hill.

In a series of Instagram movies, Milton fumed, calling the chronicle “bullshit” and announcing Nikola had approached the SEC about it (the Division of Justice and SEC would later start inquiries into Nikola). Four months later, in its 2020 annual chronicle, Nikola acknowledged that Hindenburg had accurately known on the least 9 conditions in which Milton or the corporate made incorrect statements, together with the advice that the auto within the 2018 video became once a working prototype besides feedback Milton made in 2020 that Nikola developed your entire “main” parts in its vehicles.

In the wake of the Hindenburg chronicle, traders sent Nikola’s stock tag tumbling. GM, which had acknowledged it would make investments in Nikola and create a pickup truck for it, made up our minds by November that it did now not must entire either, announcing as an different that it would handiest provide Nikola with hydrogen gasoline cells. BP and varied energy corporations paused discussions with Nikola about constructing hydrogen-fueling stations, The Wall Facet street Journal reported. And, within the weeks after the chronicle’s release, two girls accused Milton of sexual assault. Folks shut to the girls, and a former buddy of Milton, corroborated their accounts. Milton denied their allegations. 

On September 21, Milton stepped down from Nikola, announcing he did now not must change into a distraction.

Trevor Milton

Hindenburg’s chronicle put off a series reaction that ended in Milton’s resignation.

Nikola


The 2 Trevors

Milton’s guests ponder he’s misunderstood. They are saying he’s no longer the liar or predator his detractors and alleged victims make him out to be. In their ogle, he’s the different: valid, extremely spicy, and generous, even when no one’s having a observe.

“He’s got an countless heart,” Jimmy Rex, a chum of Milton’s, acknowledged. “He’s constantly been keen to entire issues for various of us. There’s so many issues that he does that no one ever sees.” As soon as, Rex acknowledged, Milton paid for approximately 30 guests to affix him on a time out to Hawaii.

One other buddy acknowledged he never saw Milton lunge previous a homeless person without giving them something when the 2 lived in Utah. More currently, Trevor gave Nikola workers a entire of 7 million shares, value about $125 million, as a token of gratitude.

Others observe Milton as selfish and callous. Aubrey Smith, a cousin of Milton, suggested Insider that he groped her after their grandfather’s funeral in 1999, when she became once 15 and he became once 17 (three of us shut to Smith acknowledged in interviews with Insider that she had previously suggested them about the alleged assault). Four years later, Smith acknowledged, Milton acted as if he did now not ponder about her at his step-mom’s funeral. Smith acknowledged Milton eventually suggested her he became once sorry about his actions correct thru the alleged 1999 assault, nonetheless added that he felt compelled to train regret handiest on memoir of Smith became once his cousin.

“If you were someone varied than my cousin, I’d let you know to fuck off and stop being loopy,” Smith acknowledged Milton suggested her.

Per week after Smith recounted the alleged assault in a series of tweets, CNBC printed a legend that included an allegation from a former employee of St. George Security & Alarms, Milton’s first startup, that Milton had sexually assaulted her in 2004, when she became once 15 and he became once 22. The girl’s title became once no longer disclosed by CNBC, even though the newsletter acknowledged a chum of the girl, besides Tyler Winona, a former buddy of Milton, corroborated parts of her memoir.

Winona suggested CNBC that Milton later bragged to him about the alleged assault, announcing, “I treasure virgins on memoir of they are naive.”

The alleged victim and Winona declined Insider’s requests for cell phone interviews thru their felony professional. Milton denied the allegations made by Smith, Winona, and the girl mentioned in CNBC’s chronicle.

Trevor Milton

Milton has been accumulated since stepping down from Nikola.

Nikola


Milton has made no public statements since he left Nikola, a inserting reversal for any individual who once expressed himself thru a valid skedaddle of tweets, Instagram movies, and interviews. Having to leave the corporate he constructed damage, three of his guests acknowledged.

“Talking to him the assorted day became all yet again or much less depressing, on memoir of it became once the principle time I’ve ever heard him sound down,” one buddy of Milton acknowledged in September.

After spending worthy of his adult life leading startups, Milton now needs to relaxation and heart of attention on his private life in a technique he wasn’t in a site to sooner than, Fleming acknowledged. He needs to rating in form, launch a household, and reduction to the relationships he positioned on eradicate whereas constructing Nikola. 

As a billionaire, Milton doesn’t desire to work again if he doesn’t must. (Whereas most of his wealth is tied up in Nikola stock, Milton offered $70 million value of shares when the corporate went public.) It be laborious, even though, to deem any individual so wired for entrepreneurship will retire forever.

But when he needs to mount a comeback, he’ll must aloof be ready to face down skeptics who develop no longer have faith him. He would possibly perchance perchance stop successfully to approach to his roots. By his telling, there became once minute his father cared more about when Milton became once younger than honesty.

“I grew up in a household where the largest aspect that you can perchance well stop is converse the truth,” Milton suggested “The Sign Haney Podcast” final one year. “My dad bred that into me.”

That lesson looked as if it would recede as Milton grew older, and it tag him. If he needs a shot at redemption, he’ll must aloof be determined lesson sticks.

Are you a most well-liked or former Nikola employee? Develop you comprise got a news tip or thought you’d eradicate to fragment? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@insider.com, on Sign at 646-768-4712, or by draw of his encrypted electronic mail take care of mmatousek@protonmail.com.


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