Tesla Brain Drain is Not “To” OpenAI but rather “From” Musk

Elon Musk’s success and wealth alone do not make him the smartest person alive. While he skillfully reframes Tesla’s brain drain as a sign of the company’s superiority, he fails to grasp that increasing pay is a temporary fix, not a permanent solution: A new baseline is set, which is inevitably followed by escalation. Tesla and Musk’s other businesses would benefit more if he focused on improving employee engagement and morale, instead of prioritizing his personal ambitions and thinly veiled attempts to settle personal accounts – another telltale sign of poor leadership.

Unlike in Sam Altman’s case, when his ousting prompted staff revolt, it’s doubtful Musk’s team would threaten resignation if he lost his CEO position. Tesla’s top talent likely looks forward to moving away from Musk, not necessarily to Altman – this is my main takeaway from this story.

What are your takeaways?

You can read the original article on the Fortune site here (behind the paywall).

Below is a summary of the Fortune article by Christiaan Hertzner.  

The article discusses Elon Musk’s allegations that OpenAI, led by Sam Altman, is aggressively recruiting Tesla engineers to join Musk’s new startup xAI. Musk claims OpenAI has made “massive compensation offers” and has been “successful in a few cases”, including the recent departure of Tesla engineer Ethan Knight.

Musk argues this talent war is part of his ongoing feud with Altman, and that he needs the Tesla employees to help narrow the gap between xAI and the more established OpenAI. As Musk put it: “The talent war for AI is the craziest talent war I’ve ever seen!”

The article also raises concerns about Musk’s management style, noting “Musk regularly uses Tesla resources to address project at other companies he own” without oversight from Tesla’s board. One investor asked: “Is there a precedent for the CEO of a public company poaching talent to go over to his private company? Is he acting in shareholders’ best interests?”