– Elon Musk’s xAI startup has recruited several engineers from Tesla, including machine-learning scientist Ethan Knight.

  • The flow of talent underscores xAI’s growing importance to Musk and his practice of tapping Tesla employees for private ventures.
  • Tesla has lost engineers to various companies, with Knight being the third to oversee its computer vision program in less than two years.

    Elon Musk’s xAI artificial intelligence startup has been attracting talent from an unsurprising source: Tesla. Last month, Tesla machine-learning scientist Ethan Knight became the third engineer to leave the electric vehicle company for xAI, following engineers who had worked on supercomputing, Autopilot, and AI infrastructure.

    The migration of personnel highlights Musk’s prioritization of xAI, which he founded last year, and his tendency to tap employees from publicly traded Tesla for his privately held companies, such as SpaceX and X. This practice has gained new significance since Musk expressed discomfort with growing Tesla’s AI and robotics leadership without controlling 25% of the company’s vote.


    Tesla has been losing engineers to various companies, not just Musk’s. Knight was the third engineer to oversee Tesla’s computer vision program, which is crucial for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving products, in less than two years. Despite ongoing hiring efforts, it remains uncertain whether Tesla can compete with rapidly growing startups for in-demand engineers.



    Meanwhile, xAI has launched the Grok chatbot and now boasts 32 technical employees on its website, including former Tesla engineers Ross Nordeen, Fabio Aguilera-Convers, and Tim Zaman, who later worked on AI at X before joining Google DeepMind.

    As Tesla faces production and sales challenges, along with a significant drop in its stock price, Musk’s prioritization of xAI and the flow of talent from the automaker to his private ventures may have implications for the company’s future AI and robotics endeavors.