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Apple Car poaching killed electric motorcycle start-up, says CEO

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Apple entering a new market is great for competition, but what if it’s at the expense of start-ups?

An electric motorcycle company was left floundering after Apple poached a number of its employees, a new report claims.

According to Reuters, Mission Motors ceased operations back in May after losing its top talent to the Apple Car project.

The company, known for its sleek electric bikes that were often compared to Tesla’s cars, saw a number of engineers leave to begin work with Apple’s prospective efforts in the electric vehicle space.

“Some close to Mission Motors said it had reached a point of no return by last fall, when departures to Apple, and other companies, accelerated after a long struggle to find funding and a sound business model,” reads the report.

“Mission had a great group of engineers, specifically electric drive expertise,” said Derek Kaufman, former Chief Executive of the firm.

Kaufman added: “Apple knew that – they wanted it, and they went and got it.”

According to the ex-boss, Apple recruiters “began circling Mission” as it was trying to raise funding last autumn.

It’s reported that an investor who had committed to the funding round backed out after two key engineers jumped ship to Apple.

This isn’t the first time that Apple has been accused of aggressive poaching to further its alleged vehicle manufacturing operations.

Back in February, A123 Systems, an electric car battery maker, sued Apple for recruiting several top engineers from the firm. The companies eventually settled, but the terms were never disclosed publicly.

Tesla has also reportedly lost a number of its engineers to Apple, which company CEO Elon Musk has previously made light of.

“Important engineers? They have hired people we’ve fired,” said Musk, speaking about Apple earlier this month. “We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard’. If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”

At the time, Musk cautioned that “cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches”.

He added: “For Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation”, and said that “a new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough”.

Related: Apple Car: The biggest challenges Apple faces

Earlier today, we reported on new analyst estimations that put the Apple Car's eventual retail price at $55,000, with 200,000 units expected to ship in the first year.

In spite of mounting evidence however, Apple is still publicly silent regarding its oft-rumoured move into the electric vehicles space.

It’s expected that if Apple does release an electric vehicle, it won’t arrive until at least 2020.

Do you think Apple is poaching employees too aggressively? Let us know in the comments.

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