Disruptive technology in an elegantly designed package that sells itself – that’s the formula that’s been working wonders for two American companies. The parallels between Tesla and Apple, and the fact that quite a few employees have made a move from the computermaker to the carmaker, isn’t news, but a recent Bloomberg article puts some numbers to the story. Tesla has hired at least 150 former Apple employees, more than from any other company, including automakers.
As the triple trends of electrification, automation and connectivity race ahead, automakers increasingly need top computer talent, and it’s understandable if the star coders of Silicon Valley show little interest in moving to Detroit. “When you talk to people in Silicon Valley, there’s a totally different mindset. They look at Detroit as old,” says Dave Sullivan, an automotive analyst for research firm AutoPacific. “You don’t see that same innovation.”
Tesla’s ability to lure people from Apple gives it an edge, says Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas. “It’s almost an unfair advantage. As software goes from 10 percent of the value of the car to 60 over 10 years, that…will intensify.”
Many have drawn comparisons between Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, both known for their attention to detail and their quick temper when things go wrong. Musk enjoys such comparisons, and is enamored with Apple, a former Tesla worker told Bloomberg. “From a design philosophy, [Apple] is relatively closely aligned,” says Elon Musk.
Apple alumni now at Tesla include VP for Product Excellence Rich Heley, Associate General Counsel Lynn Miller, Director of Training Programs Beth Loeb Davies, and Director of Power Electronics Nick Kalayjian.
The revolving door might just work the other way, too – Musk says Apple has been trying to poach some of his team, offering $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent raises. “Apple tries very hard to recruit from Tesla,” he told Bloomberg. “But so far they’ve actually recruited very few people.”