Tesla CEO Elon Musk told the world Friday that Apple has been hiring people fired from Tesla, that Apple is jokingly known as the Tesla Graveyard. That's not the story I've been hearing for some time from my sources. My understanding is that many people have been leaving Tesla to go to a variety of other companies, and not just to Apple.
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"Important engineers?" Mr. Musk told Handlesblatt when asked about Apple poaching employees from Tesla. "They have hired people we've fired. We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.' If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding."
"That's total BS," is how one source with intimate familiarity of the situation put it when I asked about Mr. Musk's comment.
Which isn't to say that Tesla hasn't fired anyone and that some of those people have then been hired by Apple and/or other Silicon Valley firms. I don't know one way or another if that scenario has played out, but I'd be shocked if it weren't true in some capacity. Silicon Valley is extraordinarily competitive at the moment, and it's a worker-dominated market.
But the idea that Apple has been relegated to picking up Tesla's rejects flies in the face of everything I've been tracking on the Apple Car story. What I've been told is that Apple has been aggressively recruiting with a rigorous hiring process, and that the company has found a receptive audience in some corners of Tesla.
If I was the nit-picking sort, I'm pretty sure that would make Apple the 'Tesla Heaven,' not the 'Tesla Graveyard.'
Keep that in perspective, though. Tesla has also successfully poached from Apple—the reality is that every company has unhappy employees, and that includes Apple and Tesla. Look hard enough and you'll find someone with something to complain about everywhere.
With that in mind, I am in no way trying to paint Tesla as a company in trouble just because I know people who are or were unhappy there. I am, however, saying that Elon Musk's claims don't jive with my understanding of what is happening at Apple.