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Google, Tesla And Apple Race For Electric, Autonomous Vehicle Talent

Apple, Google, Tesla, and Ford appear to be in a bit of a hiring -- and in some cases, poaching -- spree to build up their electric and self-driving car teams. Here is a look at some of the more high-profile comings and goings.
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(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

The high-stakes race to develop mass-market electric vehicles and the more recent, if less compelling, technology behind self-driving vehicles, has spurred a fierce battle for top talent at some of the world's biggest companies, including Apple, Google, Ford, and Tesla.

Apple and Tesla in particular seem keen to poach from each other's ranks, though the company better known for iPhones and MacBooks appears to be furiously ramping up its efforts and keeping a secretive lid on just what Titan, its electric vehicle project, is all about.

With secretive hirings also come unexpected departures -- the newest being the reported exit of Apple veteran Steve Zadesky from Project Titan.

Zadesky's departure has put additional pressure on the Titan team, which, according to the WSJ report, has been faced with unattainable targets and no clear goals. Bloomberg reported last February that Apple is pushing the team to have an electric car in production by 2020.

[See Google, Tesla, Nissan: 6 Self-Driving Vehicles Cruising Our Way.]

Along with the search for top talent are less than guarded remarks from industry leaders, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who had some choice worlds regarding Apple's poaching methods.

"We always jokingly call Apple the Tesla Graveyard," Musk told the paper. "They have hired people we've fired ... If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding."

Later, Musk sent out a Tweet that backed off on some of the Apple comments.

"Yo, I don't hate Apple. It's a great company with a lot of talented people. I love their products and I'm glad they're doing an EV," he wrote on his official Twitter account. 

As the electric vehicle space continues to get more competitive, we're likely to see ever-bigger battles for talent as more companies enter the fray. Here's a look at some of the recent big comings and goings.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2016 | 8:29:57 PM
Re: Its a fierce battle
I think switching companies have to do with monetary reason, but not always. Also, how the goals of a company matches yours. For instance, an environmentalist, someone who has passion for space exploration or renewables might think working for Tesla/Musk makes more sense than working for Apple. I wouldn't blame him/her if they want a breath of fresh air, so to speak.
Do you agree?
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2016 | 12:32:40 PM
Re: Its a fierce battle

@mak63 very true. The loss of some very intelligent people is definitely a loss. But we need to understand under what circumstances they decided to quit. Do you feel that its because of monetary difference or some other issues. I believe that if the people who are quitting are so very important for the firm might be given some easy hand. But still I believe that rules and regulations are not to be compromised in any sense. What do you say?

mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2016 | 11:58:53 PM
Re: Its a fierce battle
I agree. The lost of Doug Field to Tesla in 2013, and the departure of Titan team leader Steve Zadesky can't be good news for Apple. They still have time to recover for the 2020 deadline though. Didn't Virgin Galactic build the new spaceship (SS2) in 3 years? I'm sure Apple can build a car in less time, if they want to.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
2/19/2016 | 10:22:46 AM
Its a fierce battle

I am not really surprized to hear shifting of expertise from one company to other. The statement regarding apple hiring people they fire might be comming out of sheer frustration and anger rather any thing else. Being in corporate world its very common that people tend to shift seeing their own interest and very rare keeping in mind the interest of the company. Secondly its not possible that apple is hiring its employees without proper checks and what is best for their company. We still need to wait and see what is the end result of this.

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