Tesla blames lack of cash on employee exodus to Apple

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Tesla
The Tesla Model 3 in all its glory.
Photo: Tesla

Apple has hired away numerous Tesla employees since the end of last year — and not just to work on its Apple Car efforts, either.

According to LinkedIn data, 46 former Tesla employees have joined Apple since late 2017: either leaving the company directly for Apple, or being dismissed and then joining. These include manufacturing experts, security and software engineers, supply chain authorities, and more. And Tesla has an official statement to make about it.

Of the Tesla employees to leave for Apple, the most noteworthy is likely Doug Field, Tesla’s former Senior Vice President of Engineering, who recently headed back to Apple, where he had previously been employed.

Tesla vs. Apple

While Tesla and Apple have long traded employees, there’s no doubt that Apple is the more attractive company in a lot of ways right now. JP Morgan predicts that Tesla shares will fall from their current $320 to $195 by the end of the year. Tesla also burned through $700 million in cash during its second quarter. A recent emotional interview with the New York Times also revealed the struggles of CEO Elon Musk.

Apple, on the other hand, has just surpassed $1 trillion in value, and appears to be going from strength to strength.

In a statement to CNBC, Tesla didn’t deny the exodus of employees to Apple, and highlighted the financial gulf between the two companies:

“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. We don’t even have money for advertising or endorsements or discounts, so must survive on the quality of our products alone. Nonetheless, we believe in our mission and that it is worth the sacrifice of time and the never ending barrage of negativity by those who wish us ill. So it goes. The world must move to sustainable energy and it must do so now.”

It’s a fair enough comment, and ironically one that’s not dissimilar to the appeal Apple made to folks in the late 1990s before its big turnaround. It’s definitely a bit ironic to complain about inequality of finances when you’re selling products to the richest people in society, though. And we’re not sure about that “quality” dig at Apple, either.