At Electrek, we like to cover the transition to electric transport, but also the people who are making it happen. That’s why we often report on employee movements between companies like Apple, Faraday Future, GM, NextEV and of course, Tesla.
But sometimes, we don’t have a lot of information about the new hires and even though they have interesting talents to cover, we don’t release full featured articles about them, like our recent report on Tesla’s new Chief Information Officer. So we thought of doing this short “Tesla comings and goings” about recent hires and departures at Tesla.
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Editor’s note: this is our second installment of “Tesla comings and goings” – you can read our last one here. Let us know in the comment section below if it’s something you want to see more of or if you don’t care.
New IT Leadership:
Speaking of Tesla’s new Chief Information Officer, Gary Clark, who was IT CTO and Engineering CIO at Juniper until recently, he is bringing more people from Juniper to Tesla.
Earlier this month, Jerry Ibrahim joined Tesla as Senior Director of Software Engineering and Architecture, according to his Linkedin profile.
Ibrahim was reporting directly to Clark at Juniper where he was Vice President of Mobile, Social, & Emerging Technologies for the past 3 years. Before Juniper, he had a 13-year career in Honeywell’s IT department.
I am not talking about autonomous driving experts, but manufacturing automation experts.
Tesla is moving a lot of its focus on what CEO Elon Musk is calling “the machine that builds the machine.” During a conference call with analyst last week, Musk said in response to Tesla building a competitive advantage in factory automation:
“The set of steps necessary to achieve that outcome seems pretty obvious and heavily involve Tesla getting incredibly good at the machine that builds the machine — which involves, by the way, a tremendous amount of software. This is — it’s not just a bunch of robots sort of sitting there, it’s the programming of the robots and how they interact. And it’s far more complex than the software in the car. I mean, I think this is just going to be a very difficult thing for other manufacturers to copy. I probably wouldn’t know what to do if I were in that position.”
It’s translating into more hires in the field and moving its own talent on automation projects.
For Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, Tesla has hired several automation experts from semiconductor company GlobalFoundries. More recently, Tesla hired Chungsoo Han to automate Gigafactory 1’s material flow. He was a senior member of GlobalFoundries’ technical staff and led several automation projects for major Korean companies in past, including Samsung.
In Fremont, Tesla hired Ruth Kocsis, an engineering program manager. She wrote about his new position at Tesla on her LinkedIn profile:
“General Assembly -Focus on Automation and Machine Vision Projects.”
Those hires should result in only moderate automation on the Model 3 production line since Musk said that the Model Y will be when Tesla will really go all-in on automation.
New Mergers and Acquisitions Division:
Until late last year, Tesla wasn’t very active in the mergers and acquisitions front. Aside from an acquisition of a small tool and die company and the failed acquisition of a lithium company, there was nothing.
But then, Tesla acquired both SolarCity and Grohmann Engineering in the space of only a few months and those are quite significant acquisitions, which they now need to integrate into the company.
Tesla hired last month yet another former Juniper executive, Domenic Perri, to lead the “Mergers and Acquisitions Integration”.
He wrote in his LinkedIn profile:
“Lead Tesla’s global M&A integration strategy. Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Prior to joining Tesla, he was VP of Business Development for the past 2 years at Flashpoint, a New York City-based dark web Business Risk Intelligence (BRI), and held a similar role for a decade at Juniper before that.
Tesla lost a few Autopilot engineers over the past few months. The team is becoming quite large and therefore, an employee turnover is normal, but the creation of Aurora Innovation, a competing self-driving vehicle company co-founded by former Tesla Autopilot Director, Sterling Anderson, also hired away a few employees.
One of the most senior Tesla employees now at Aurora is Jing Cai. He worked on Tesla’s Autopilot and infotainment systems since 2011 until joining Anderson’s startup last month.
Apple poaching war is still going:
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has an affectionate nickname for Apple: The ‘Tesla Graveyard‘. “They have hired people we’ve fired,” Musk said. “We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple”. He made the comment after being asked about the so-called “poaching war” between the automaker and the consumer electronic giant following the start of Apple’s electric car program: ‘Project Titan‘.
There are definitely still a lot of employee movements between the two companies, but it’s important to note that Apple and Tesla are now two of the biggest players in Silicon Valley – so it’s not abnormal.
But it’s definitely ongoing. Last month, Apple hired Woojin Jung, a Mechanical Design Engineer on Body Structure at Tesla.
On the other hand, Tesla hired Astav Sacheti around the same time. Sacheti has been leading software projects at Apple for the last 10 years, more recently as a “Sr Manager – Special Projects Group – Software”.
He joined Tesla last month as “Senior Manager – Diagnostics Software Systems”.