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Apple Employees Leave for Bigger Bite of Self-Driving World

By: Bridget Clerkin September 6, 2017
Employees have reportedly left Apple's car project over concerns that the company isn't serious about the automotive business.

Silicon Valley is a notoriously competitive place—and it seems like that attitude even extends to how many employees a company can shed.

Not to be outdone by arch rival Google—which lost a number of engineers in its autonomous vehicle division last year—Apple has also suffered through a recent self-driving exodus, reportedly losing 17 members of Project Titan, the team tasked with developing the company’s driver-free technology.

The employees allegedly fled to the greener pastures of self-driving start-up Zoox, which is working on its own version of an autonomous vehicle—a pursuit that it increasingly seems Apple has given up on.

Reps from both companies declined to comment on the situation.

Still, reports over Apple’s autonomous vehicle development have gone from bad to worse for fans of the otherwise nearly-ubiquitous corporation.

The company recently tempered expectations of its role in the race to autonomous cars when CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple was merely involved in creating software that could be used in the vehicles, not the autos themselves. It was a far cry from the original ambitions of Project Titan, which reportedly brought in experts from both the tech and automotive worlds to work on everything from car door and interior design to the sophisticated LIDAR sensors used to help direct the vehicles.

It’s unclear exactly when Apple lost its appetite for such an expansive vision at Titan, but rumors of its shuttering—and reports of its downsizing—have been rampant for at least a year.

That organizational shake-up may have led to the recent bout of departures, with many engineers finding themselves, and their projects, sidelined by the company’s shifting priorities, according to Bloomberg.

Zoox, on the other hand, is seemingly ramping up operations, hiring on former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Mark Rosekind as chief safety innovation officer, and bringing former Ferrari executive Corrado Lanzone on board to oversee its manufacturing efforts.

All told, the start-up is rumored to be worth $1 billion and reportedly raised at least $250 million in venture funding.

Apple may be the world’s most valuable tech company, but it may need to start focusing on the value of keeping its employees happy.

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