Tesla takes a bite out of Apple's talent

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk is enamored with Apple and has the workforce to prove it. What will this mean for Tesla's route to electric car innovation? 

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters/File
A man looks around Tesla Motors' Model S P85 at its showroom in Beijing last month. Tesla reportedly has hired 150 former Apple employees in an effort to stock its workforce with a tech and innovation forward philosophy.

Elon Musk is taking a bite out of Apple, one employee at a time.

A new report from Bloomberg Businessweek points out that Tesla has more former Apple employees than any other company, and that likely is a purposeful move.

While the race for the smart car future rages on, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk is aiming to stock his company with engineers who have a solid software background at one of the most successful companies to date. The hope is to create vehicles that fuse the innovation and smooth aesthetics of Apple into the electric car future Mr. Musk envisions.

Some 150 former Apple employees currently work at Tesla. Though a small number of the more than 6,000 employees at the car company, it is more than any other company in Silicon Valley. Musk admits that Apple has a similar “design philosophy” but others have noticed even more intense feelings of admiration from him. Employees say he is fascinated by Apple and has a similar leadership style to co-founder Steve Jobs. He also has a background in software development, and reportedly will frequently drop into job interviews to chat coding with potential employees.

It has shown through in Tesla’s cars as well. The company’s recent models offer sleek screens, a frequently updating operating system, and an emphasis on making the product accessible right away, pleasing the tech savvy and everyman alike.

The strategy could prove very helpful for the only major Silicon Valley-based car company, as most other auto manufacturers have stuck with employees who have come up in the ranks of auto manufacturing, even as they edge toward tech features. Having employees with a tech background already woven into the fabric of the company will likely give Tesla a further leg up.

That being said, Apple won’t let Tesla take all its talent. The tech company has reportedly also attempted to poach Tesla employees. Bloomberg reports Apple has offered Tesla workers up to $250,000 in signing bonuses and 60 percent raises to join its ranks. But Musk says it has been to little avail. “So far they’ve actually recruited very few people,” he tells Bloomberg.

That hasn’t stopped Apple from moving forward with its own auto-ventures. Mysterious Apple vans with roof-mounted technology have been sighted everywhere from Silicon Valley to Wisconsin, though experts are unsure whether this means the company is exploring its own self-driving car technology or expanding on Apple Maps.

A future of Apple Cars or Tesla Operating Systems? With each company eying the same talent, these crossovers don’t seem so far fetched.

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