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Top Apple engineer explains why he quit to go work at Tesla

Tesla Vs Apple

Earlier this week, Tesla scored a huge coup when it announced the hiring of Chris Lattner, a widely respected Apple engineer who helped spearhead the development of Swift and who also helped oversee Apple’s Xcode team. While Apple engineers migrating to Tesla is certainly nothing new, Lattner is arguably the most high-profile employee to leave 1 Infinite Loop to work for Elon Musk. As for his new role, Lattner will begin working at Tesla later this month where he will become Tesla’s VP of Autopilot Software.

In the wake of Lattner’s move to Tesla, there’s been a lot of speculation as to what prompted the departure. While one report initially claimed that Lattner was disillusioned by Apple’s overbearing culture of secrecy, Latter has since come out and called such claims patently false.

Since then, Lattner has taken to more pro-actively explaining why he left Apple, a wise move given that the alternative would be to simply let speculation build upon itself, likely leading to misleading characterizations about his time at Apple.

Speaking to MacRumors, Lattner explained that he was drawn to Tesla by the opportunity to work on important and challenging engineering problems. What’s more, Lattner articulated that he’s also excited about the prospect of working on something new after more than a decade of focusing on developer tools exclusively.

“I’ve been writing code for more than 30 years, and 16 of those years have been in the developer tools space,” Lattner said. “I love it, but I am ready to move on to something else. Autopilot is clearly incredibly important to the world because of its ability to save people’s lives (and increase convenience). It is also a very, very hard technology problem and my experience building large scale software and team building is useful. Of course, I’ve also been a huge Tesla fan for some time.”

Notably, Lattner wasn’t the only big Apple departure to make headlines over the past few days. Earlier in the week, word surfaced that Tesla hired Matt Casebolt, a mechanical engineer at Apple who helped work on the MacBook Air, the Mac Pro, and the recently released MacBook Pro with the TouchBar.

For those interested in more of the backstory surrounding Lattner’s decision to work for Tesla, make sure to check out his recent appearance on this week’s episode of the ATP podcast.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.