Apple Inc. (AAPL) appears to be taking full advantage of the current uncertainty engulfing fellow tech company Tesla Inc. (TSLA). CNBC, citing LinkedIn data and sources familiar with the matter, reports that the iPhone maker hired at least 46 people in 2018 who were either directly poached from Tesla or recruited after being laid off by the electric car maker.
The hiring of engineers, interns and global supply chain managers from Tesla comes at a time when Apple ramps up work on its stealthy vehicle initiative, Project Titan. One engineer at Tesla added that the Cupertino, California-based company's recruitment drive also reflects its recent efforts to take back control of its manufacturing processes after years of heavy outsourcing.
CNBC’s sources said that some former Tesla employees have been encouraging their old colleagues to join them at Apple, claiming that the iPhone Maker offers great leadership and products and pays better salaries. People familiar with the matter estimated that Apple pays technicians, software and manufacturing engineers about one-and-a-half times more than Tesla, adding that this gulf in salary is particularly important in an area as expensive as California's San Francisco Bay Area.
A former Tesla vehicle engineer, who was laid off in June, argued that the current uncertainty engulfing his former employer meant that stock options at Apple are likely to be more attractive, too. He added that many employees at the electric car maker sell their options as soon as possible to make up for their average salaries and the high living costs in Silicon Valley.
Low morale is gradually leading many to jump ship. Workers claim that an increasing number of their colleagues are now voluntarily leaving the company and that this situation has worsened as Apple steps up its recruitment drive. The departure of Doug Field, Tesla's former senior vice president of engineering, was said to have had a particularly damaging impact on staff morale.
Field recently rejoined Apple after five years at Tesla. Last year, he was put in charge of the electric automaker’s aggressive drive to ramp up production of the Model 3. However, by April, costly delays manufacturing the company’s four-door sedan led CEO Elon Musk to intervene and take over these responsibilities. Shortly after, Field took a leave of absence, before eventually departing Tesla altogether. (See also: Tesla's Former Engineering Chief Rejoins Apple to Work on Car Program.)
Tesla disagreed with comments that more people are leaving its company than in recent years, telling CNBC that voluntary attrition has actually decreased by one-third over the last twelve months. When asked about competition from Apple, the spokesperson added that it is inevitable that the iPhone maker can offer more attractive pay packages.
"We wish them well. Tesla is the hard path. We have 100 times less money than Apple, so of course they can afford to pay more. We are in extremely difficult battles against entrenched auto companies that make 100 times more cars than we did last year, so of course this is very hard work." (See also: Apple Should Buy Tesla: Ross Gerber.)