Apple’s aggressive automotive hiring causes electric motorcycle startup to close its doors

Mission Motors image 001

Apple’s aggressive pace of recruiting top talent in the automotive industry for its rumored electric car project, dubbed Project Titan, has caused a San Francisco motorcycle startup to shutter its operation after losing top talent to the iPhone maker, Reuters reported Monday.

Although the Cupertino firm has never attempted to acquire Mission Motors, which designed sleek electric bikes, the company was forced to cease operations in May “after losing some of its top engineering talent to Apple,” said Reuters, citing sources close to Mission.

Just as Mission was trying to raise a crucial round of funding last autumn, Apple began aggressively poaching its engineers, prompting an investor who had committed to the round to back out after two key engineers joined the California firm.

People close to the situation estimate that about a half dozen engineers have moved to Apple thus far, including Nancy Sun, Mission’s vice president of electrical engineering, Mark Sherwood, director of power train systems engineering, and Eyal Cohen, vice president of software and electrical engineering.

Steve Jobs on easy rider motorbike

“Some close to Mission Motors said it had reached a point of no return by last fall, when departures to Apple, and other companies, accelerated after a long struggle to find funding and a sound business model,” reads the article.

In February, a company called A123 Systems which makes batteries for electric cars actually dragged Apple to court over poaching its top engineers. The two companies later settled on undisclosed terms.

“Mission had a great group of engineers, specifically electric drive expertise,” said former Mission CEO Derek Kaufman. “Apple knew that—they wanted it, and they went and got it.”

Photo: The unreleased Mission Motors’ “Mission R”, a street bike.

Source: Reuters