Swift creator Chris Lattner is leaving Apple to take a position as Vice President of Autopilot Software at Tesla. Lattner announced his departure Tuesday on a Swift.org forum, and Tesla published a blog post shortly after welcoming him to the company.
Lattner has been at Apple since 2005, and is credited with building early versions of the Swift programming language in 2010, before a team was formed to further the project. Most recently, he held the title of Senior Director of the Developer Tools team.
Here’s Lattner’s letter:
I’m happy to announce that Ted Kremenek will be taking over for me as “Project Lead” for the Swift project, managing the administrative and leadership responsibility for Swift.org. This recognizes the incredible effort he has already been putting into the project, and reflects a decision I’ve made to leave Apple later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space. This decision wasn’t made lightly, and I want you all to know that I’m still completely committed to Swift. I plan to remain an active member of the Swift Core Team, as well as a contributor to the swift-evolution mailing list.
Working with many phenomenal teams at Apple to launch Swift has been a unique life experience. Apple is a truly amazing place to be able to assemble the skills, imagination, and discipline to pull something like this off. Swift is in great shape today, and Swift 4 will be a really strong release with Ted as the Project Lead.
Note that this isn’t a change to the structure – just to who sits in which role – so we don’t expect it to impact day-to-day operations in the Swift Core Team in any significant way. Ted and I wanted to let you know what is happening as a part of our commitment to keeping the structure of Swift.org transparent to our community.
And here’s the blog post from Tesla:
We would like to welcome Chris Lattner, who will join Tesla as our Vice President of Autopilot Software. Chris’ reputation for engineering excellence is well known. He comes to Tesla after 11 years at Apple where he was primarily responsible for creating Swift, the programming language for building apps on Apple platforms and one of the fastest growing languages for doing so on Linux. Prior to Apple, Chris was lead author of the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure, an open source umbrella project that is widely used in commercial products and academic research today.
As Chris joins Tesla, we would like to give a special thanks to Jinnah Hosein, SpaceX’s Vice President of Software, who has been serving a dual role as the interim Vice President of Tesla Autopilot Software and will now be heading back to SpaceX full-time. We would like to thank Jinnah for the efforts needed to achieve excellence in both roles, David Nister, our Vice President of Autopilot Vision, and the team for their exceptional work in advancing Autopilot.
We are very excited that Chris is joining Tesla to lead our Autopilot engineering team and accelerate the future of autonomous driving.
Lattner’s departure is of course a major blow to Apple—by all accounts he was a very talented and well-respected engineer—and the Tesla release definitely adds insult to injury. We couldn’t think of another time the company made such an announcement.