"The craziest talent war I’ve ever seen!"

Poached Egg

Elon Musk is big mad that OpenAI keeps trying to poach Tesla engineers — so instead, he's stealing them for another of his ventures.

Responding to reporting from The Information about Tesla machine learning researcher Ethan Knight going over to xAI, Musk's latest artificial intelligence gambit, the multi-hyphenate billionaire admitted that the move came only after OpenAI tried to poach his own employee first.

"Ethan was going to join OpenAI," Musk said in a response to perennial reply guy Sawyer Merritt, "so it was either xAI or them."

As you may recall, Musk was one of the original cofounders of OpenAI and left the firm in 2018 amid reported differences in opinion regarding what direction it should be taking. About a year later, the company announced that it would be opening a for-profit arm, which has clearly chagrined its most famous cofounder in the interim. Ever since, he's been in something of a blood feud with the firm.

It's not exactly shocking that OpenAI would seek to lift researchers from Musk-owned companies, especially considering that he's allegedly attempted to do the same — and as the rest of his comments indicate, it's clear not only that this is the latest forte in his ongoing battle with the company he helped start, but also that he might not be exactly winning this one.

"They have been aggressively recruiting Tesla engineers with massive compensation offers," Musk continued, "and have unfortunately been successful in a few cases."

Insult to Injury

Strangely enough, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO also seemed to trash his employee after correcting Merritt's insistence that Knight was the "computer vision chief" at the electric vehicle company.

"Ethan is very talented," Musk said in another response, "but 'vision chief' would be overstating things."

He then took the opportunity to brag Tesla's AI and autonomy team, which he said includes "over 200 excellent engineers."

"Tesla’s pace of progress with autonomy is accelerating," Musk said, apropos to nothing. "The talent war for AI is the craziest talent war I’ve ever seen!"

One odd takeaway: because both Tesla and xAI are in desperate need of AI luminaries, two of Musk's companies are now in direct competition for the same hiring pool — and one of them is now officially poaching from the other.

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