Apple and Tesla engage in bidding war for top talent

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Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who allegedly "relishes" comparisons with Steve Jobs.

Apple and Tesla are in the midst of an intense bidding war for each other’s employees, according to Bloomberg. Tesla has so far poached more Apple staffers than any other company at 150, and Apple has tried to unsuccessfully lure Tesla’s people with big paychecks.

Tesla’s obsession with stealing Apple’s talent is mainly due to one man: Elon Musk.

“Employees who have worked at Apple say their decision to join Tesla was based on its cars and its CEO,” the report notes. “Musk has a reputation, like Steve Jobs did, for a mercurial temper and an obsessive attention to detail. A former Tesla worker who didn’t want to be named says that Musk is enamored with Apple and relishes comparisons between himself and its co-founder. Tesla, says one Silicon Valley recruiter who asked not to be named, attracts the same kind of employees that Apple does—driven, hard-charging, and drawn to a strong leader. ”

It’s easy to see the similarities between Tesla and Apple’s philosophy. Both are heavily design driven and have lofty goals for impacting humanity with the best products. The head of Tesla’s vehicle program worked on hardware design for several Macs at Apple, and employees throughout the automaker’s ranks (lawyers, HR, etc.) have Apple backgrounds.

What’s interesting is that Apple has reportedly been largely unable to poach from Tesla, even with juicy $250,000 signing bonuses and 60% salary increases.

About this time last year, there were rumors that Apple was considering a possible acquisition of Tesla. That obviously didn’t pan out, but Elon Musk did say at the time that he thought Apple making a car would be “a great idea.”

Curiously, unmarked vehicles leased to Apple and equipped with hi-tech camera equipment have been seen roaming the streets throughout North America. While they are most likely doing something Maps related, the long shot theory is that Apple could be experimenting with its own foray into automobiles.

Very unlikely. But hey, Steve Jobs did dream about an iCar.