Elon Musk is a man known for overblown statements about himself and his company. Many of these come true, from his vision of an electric car, to industrial batteries that look to revolutionize the way that people use renewable energy. However, one that many people baulked at and thought it was full of hyperbole was when he said '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.'
At the time this was simply seen as trash talk, but recent recruitment trends have shown that perhaps this may actually be the case. Apple, fresh from being toppled as the world's most valuable company, may have an issue with recruitment for engineers.
James Knight, an engineer, who spoke to the Guardian describes the Apple environment as 'so negative, so strict, so harsh' and with the company being viewed in this way, it is struggling to attract the top engineers. What used to be seen as a dream job for the world's engineers, is quickly becoming a company to avoid.
The reasons for this seismic shift come from the culture of secrecy from within Apple and the lack of a genuinely exciting new products for engineers to get excited about.
When people work on something cool, they want to let people know about what they are doing, especially if it is 3 or 4 years in the making, spending that time tight lipped about anything that happens at work, is not something that people would want to subscribe to. This secrecy also means that they are limited in who they can interact with at work and if the ideas didn't work out, could be ditched without anybody ever knowing about them.
This creates a real problem for Apple at a time when their stock price fell by 6.5% due to slowing sales of the iPhone. People want to see new exciting products, which require the best engineers to create them. However, Apple now seem to simply be creating iterations of the same products they have been making for the last few years, something that doesn't enthuse engineers. This means that the products aren't going to be as good, leading to poorer sales.
Not only is it likely that Apple's products won't be as good, but their rivals products will be better and more innovative, because the best talent is going to their competitors due to their work environment. It won't even be a case of money as any of the top tech companies can afford to pay astronomical wages.
Silicon Valley recruiters are reporting the same issue, with the other major tech companies (Facebook and Alphabet) having the pick of the best candidates, and many even choosing up-and-coming companies like Airbnb and Uber, due to the exciting work they are currently undertaking.
It is clear that at the moment, slipping from the most valuable company in the world to second most valuable, isn't exactly a disaster, but unless they can change their recruitment issue, it isn't far fetched to see them slip even further. It is proof that in order to stay on top, it is just as important to make sure what you do behind closed doors is as exciting as what you present your customers.