Elon Musk’s xAI Has Been Poaching Engineers from Tesla, Board of Directors Keep Mum As Usual

Elon Musk’s recently launched artificial intelligence company xAI has been actively recruiting engineers and scientists from Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA), raising red flags over potential conflicts of interest — especially so soon after he attempted to blackmail investors into giving him 25% voting control

According to a report from The Information, at least four Tesla employees have left the electric vehicle maker to join xAI over the past year.  

The latest departure is Ethan Knight, a machine learning scientist who previously oversaw Tesla’s computer vision team for self-driving technology. As reported by the outlet, Knight’s move to xAI follows the exits of engineers who worked on areas like supercomputing, Autopilot, and AI infrastructure at Tesla.

Related: The Hypocrisy Saga: Elon Musk Vs. OpenAI

The poaching of talent from Tesla’s AI team by Musk’s new venture xAI has highlighted the murky lines between the billionaire’s companies — considering as well that xAI is still currently privately held. Musk had previously cited a “conflict of interest with Tesla” when he left the artificial intelligence research company OpenAI a few years ago. However, his rationale for starting xAI while still leading Tesla, which he has called “an AI company,” remains unclear.

The conflicts deepened earlier this year when Musk bizarrely asked Tesla shareholders to grant him 25% voting control over the company. He argued this was necessary to prevent any entity from taking over Tesla and controlling its AI projects, suggesting he could “prefer to build products outside of Tesla” at xAI if denied the voting powers.

Related: Ross Gerber Thinks Elon Musk Doesn’t Live in the Real World, Shouldn’t Blackmail Investors Into Doing What He’s Supposed to Do Anyway

Tesla’s board — made up of Musk’s brother Kimbal and some close friends — has yet to publicly address Musk increasingly bizarre behavior, not even his demand for increased voting control nor the apparent conflicts posed by xAI’s recruitment from the automaker’s ranks. The situation has fueled speculation about Musk’s priorities and whether he plans to shift Tesla’s AI efforts to his new startup.  

Responding to the report from The Information, Musk claims that Knight was “going to join OpenAI, so it was either xAI or them,” adding that OpenAI had been “aggressively recruiting Tesla engineers with massive compensation offers.”

He also made sure to shoot down the “vision chief” description given to Knight by Tesla investor Sawyer Merritt.

When asked if Tesla was matching these offers — “Or is it more than these employees just want to switch things up, so matching wouldn’t matter?” — Musk immediately fired back, claiming that Tesla is increasing the compensation of its engineering team.

Information for this story was found via the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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