Is Apple throwing enough money at key engineers to prevent defection to Meta?

As Apple and Meta poach top talent from each other, Apple is reportedly awarding significant stock bonuses to key engineers as an incentive to stay with the company.

A still image taken from Apple's September 2021 “California Streaming” event video which shows CEO Tim Cook standing on stage and talking enthusiastically while gesturing with his hands


  • Some engineers are offered a $50,000-$180,000 bonus in restricted stock
  • This seems a reaction to the ongoing talent war between Apple and Meta
  • Meta recently poached about a hundred engineers from Apple’s AR division

A new salvo fired in the ongoing Apple-Meta poaching wars

Mark Gurman, the most accurate Apple journalist on the planet, said in a new report published by Bloomberg that Apple has approached between 10 percent and 20 percent of its key engineers with bonuses ranging from $50,000 to $180,000. The bonuses are issued in restricted stock units set to vest over four years rather than in cash. It’s an incentive to keep those employees with the company for a few more years.

The bonuses, which came as a surprise to those who received them, have ranged from about $50,000 to as much as $180,000 in some cases. Many of the engineers received amounts of roughly $80,000, $100,000 or $120,000 in shares, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the program isn’t public. The perk was presented by managers as a reward for high performers.

Make no mistake about it, this isn’t one of the usual ways that companies like Apple compensate its crucial engineers.

The payouts aren’t part of normal Apple compensation packages, which include a base salary, stock units and a cash bonus. Apple sometimes awards additional cash bonuses to employees, but the size of the latest stock grants were atypical and surprisingly timed, the people said.

This may not be enough to prevent key engineers from selling their souls to work for the worst company in America (so says a survey commissioned by Yahoo Finance).

As per, a site dedicated to helping people make better career decisions, typical stock compensations for key technology engineers is between $50,000 and $250,000 per year (that’s on top of base salary, which goes up to $250,000 for top talent).

So Apple either pays up or loses crucial people.

The Apple-Meta poaching war

The development must be viewed through the prism of the ongoing talent war between Apple and Meta, formerly Facebook. According to reports so far, Meta has been poaching key engineers from Apple’s silicon, augmented reality, wearable, hardware and software divisions for the past few months. Read: How to add music to your Facebook profile

According to Gurman’s sources, Meta has so far managed to convince about a hundred Apple engineers to jump ship just in the last few months. Those unexpected employee bonuses are no doubt Apple’s way to stop an exodus of key engineers for Meta.

Gurman in his recent Power On newsletter said that Apple had poached a communications chief from Meta’s augmented reality division for its own augmented reality efforts. While this may be a sign that the company could indeed be readying a launch of AR hardware, the real know-how is with the engineers.

Meta and Apple are set for a major clash in 2022.

Meta vs. Apple in 2022

Apple is predicted to launch its long-awaited augmented reality hardware in form of a dedicated standalone headset at some point in 2022. Facebook, meanwhile, will be updating its existing Oculus devices and no doubt doubling down on all things that have “AR”, “VR”, “MR” and “metaverse” in their names.

At the same time, Facebook is setting the stage to launch its first Apple Watch competitor at some point in 2022. The upcoming device is rumored to feature a pair of onboard cameras for video calling along with a heart rate sensor and more. The upcoming Meta wearable will reportedly feature a stainless steel frame, too.