While the idea that engineers and other skilled employees would leave Apple for a car company may, on its face, sound somewhat absurd, the dynamics change when you throw Tesla into the mix. Though technically a car company, Tesla represents a new breed of car company, more Silicon Valley than it is Detroit.
That said, a recent report from Bloomberg relays that Apple is struggling to convince some employees to stay and not take on new positions at Tesla, the revolutionary car company led by Elon Musk.
The company has hired at least 150 former Apple employees, more than from any other company, even carmakers. The former Apple staffers work in many areas of the 6,000-employee automaker, including engineering and law. “From a design philosophy, [Apple] is relatively closely aligned,” says Musk, Tesla’s co-founder and chief executive officer.
Part of the problem one has to imagine, is that while Apple is known for being a revolutionary company, it's not as if everyone at the company is busy working on unannounced and uber-exciting new products. Remember, the original team that worked on the iPhone was rather small. That said, working on the next iteration of the MacBook Pro or, say, the iPad Air 3, may simply sound less appealing than working at Tesla which has arguably transformed many facets of the driving experience overnight. Indeed, the Model S, released in 2012, has won numerous accolades for its performance and technical wizardry. To that end, it stands to reason that convincing Apple employees to jump ship may not even be that hard of a sell.
“Elon has explained to me that it’s easy for him to hire someone from Apple, because when he does the interview process for a serious software engineer—a big human asset—he’ll meet with the person and geek out with them,” says Morgan Stanley’s Jonas. “They’ll like talk about nerd software coding stuff.”
Apple, of course, prizes its talent and is reportedly pulling out all the stops to prevent employee defection, including salary increases and, in some instances, $250,000 signing bonuses.
All that said, it's not as if Apple is exactly in want of qualified talent. The company's payroll is larger than ever and expenditures on R&D reached an all-time high last quarter. Further, while employee retention is a problem for any successful company, the brand cachet of Apple, not to mention the company's integral role in the digital music and smartphone revolutions, means that it can successfully attract new talent just as quick as old talent goes out the door.