Who's hiring lots of Apple employees? Carmaker Tesla, that's who

Elon Musk's electric-car venture has lured more than 150 employees from Apple over the last few years, more than from any other company. Bloomberg reports.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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The Tesla Model S: Ready to pick up some Apple employees? Josh Miller/CNET

When Apple employees hit the road for other places of employment, a popular destination is Tesla Motors.

The maker of high-profile electric cars has hired more than 150 people from Apple across a range of expertise, including engineering and legal, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Tesla has hired more Apple employees than workers from any other company, including carmakers, the company's CEO and founder, Elon Musk, told Bloomberg. He said that Apple's design philosophy is "relatively closely aligned" with that of Tesla, which might be why he nabbed Apple Mac hardware executive Doug Field in 2013.

Founded in 2003, Tesla quickly became one of the leading electric car makers in the world. Central to the company's success has been its ability to bridge the gap between performance and good looks. The company has also benefited in recent years from bringing its costs down. The upcoming Model 3 will start at $35,000 when it launches in 2017 -- a far sight from the six figures Tesla has fetched with some of its previous models.

Tesla employs over 10,000 people, so the number of former Apple employees there is a small fraction.

Musk told Bloomberg that Apple has attempted to return the favor and steal some of its workers, but has succeeded in getting "very few." Apple, he said, has gone so far as to offer his employees $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The employment competition between Tesla and Apple stands in stark contrast to the antipoaching deals the iPhone maker, among several other companies, allegedly engaged in years ago.

According to a lawsuit filed in 2011, Apple, Google, Adobe, Intuit, and several other Silicon Valley companies secretly agreed to not steal each other's employees. While Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Intuit agreed to settle the case, Adobe, Apple, and Google are still trying to put it behind them. Last month, the companies offered the plaintiffs -- made up mainly of engineers in Silicon Valley -- $415 million to settle the case. A previous offer of $324.5 million was rejected in August by US District Court Judge Lucy Koh.

The face-off between Apple and Tesla may extend even further. Last year, reports surfaced suggesting that Apple had held talks to acquire Tesla. While Musk would not say what was discussed with Apple, he did acknowledge that they held meetings. He also expressed no desire to sell his company.