Sep 18, 2015 ยท 1 minute

Driving down Bryant Street in San Francisco yesterday, I spotted a curious billboard offering the chance to save $1000 on a new Tesla. 

I wasn't able to snap a photo, but fortunately Hunter Walk spotted it too...


A weirdly low budget promo for Tesla? Not quite. In fact, the URL on the billboard redirects to an affiliate page for Tesla's $1,000 referral program: Giving a $1,000 discount on the purchase of a new Model S, but also kicking back $1,000 to the referrer. 

A WHOIS lookup shows that the billboard URL was registered by a Las Vegas resident named Nicholas Chu-Nye. The same Nicholas Chu-Nye who, apparently, is a VP at Janus Networks. 

It seems like Mr Chu-Nye has come up with a pretty smart idea. The referrer program is supposed to be for Tesla drivers to refer their friends, but there's nothing in the world to stop owners from offering their referrer code to the world... or even to rent an entire billboard in the Tesla-dense city of San Francisco. 

According to, a large billboard can be had for as little as $1,500. Adding in the same again for design and printing, and Chu-Nye needs only three referals to break even. 

But there's more. According to Tesla's own website:

In addition, those who make five referrals will receive a free Tesla Powerwall (including installation), as well as an invitation for them and a guest to attend the Gigafactory grand opening party.

Those who make ten referrals will get the right to purchase a fully loaded Founder Series Model X, which is not available to the public, for the price of a base-level Model X—roughly a $25,000 saving.

The first person to make ten referrals in each sales region will get a fully loaded Model X for free, and if you’re the top referrer on October 31st, we’ll swap your Model S out for a fully loaded Ludicrous P90D.

...which explains the October 31st expiration date on the billboard.

If he hits the ten referrer target -- or even half that -- then suddenly a neat idea becomes a seriously smart investment. I've emailed Chu-Nye to ask how the venture is going, and will update this post if I hear back.