Musk hasn’t merely revolutionized the electrical car market — he is created his personal billion-dollar rivals.


PayPal is legendary not only for its pioneering of electronic-payments however for its mafia, a bunch of profitable alums who went on to begin or fund corporations starting from Yelp and LinkedIn to Palantir and Affirm.  

Now Elon Musk, the gang’s most well-known capo together with his huge Tesla wealth, has spawned a more moderen mob that may someday rival the unique. A string of former staff on the carmaker have gone on to type electrical car and battery corporations, largely in California. (Dozens of others have landed at EV corporations like busmaker Proterra and truckmaker Rivian.) These ex-Tesla staffers are poised to have an outsized affect on the $6 trillion world auto business within the a long time to come back. 

“Tesla cannot do it alone,” says Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s chief engineer for its Mannequin S and now CEO of his personal electrical car startup Lucid. Musk “wants some competitors,”  he provides.

“It’s a superb group to be a part of,” explains Sterling Anderson, a cofounder of autonomous driving startup Aurora, who left Tesla in 2016. “I have been actually happy to see how profitable and impactful a number of of my former colleagues have been in varied areas.”

Rawlinson, Anderson and these three different ex-Tesla standouts are on the brink of each compete with, and support, Tesla’s push to impress and automate the auto business. Their corporations have already got a mixed worth of about $26 billion. It’s a fraction of Tesla’s $780 billion market cap, however it’s just the start. 


Sterling Anderson

Aurora Innovation, Cofounder and Chief Product Officer

Anderson arrived at Tesla in 2013 to work on the Mannequin X crossover and helped launch Tesla’s pursuit of self-driving expertise by main the event of its Autopilot driver-assist function. “I liken it to serving within the trenches collectively,” he says of his time there. “You construct an actual bond in a high-pressure surroundings like that.” 

The MIT-trained scientist left in 2016 to cofound self-driving startup Aurora Innovation, joined by former Google self-driving automobile chief Chris Urmson and Carnegie Mellon College AI researcher Drew Bagnell. Aurora has raised greater than $1 billion and, in December 2020, acquired Uber’s autonomous unit, boosting the percentages it’ll be a significant participant in autonomous car expertise. To this point, it’s lined up tech partnerships with Uber, truckmaker Paccar and Toyota. The Silicon Valley startup’s valuation tops $3 billion, in line with Pitchbook. 


Gene Berdichevsky

Sila Nanotechnologies, Cofounder and CEO 

Berdichevsky was Tesla’s seventh worker, employed in 2004 as principal battery engineer for the Roadster, the corporate’s first try at an electrical automobile for the buyer market. By the point it got here out, he was extra thinking about discovering new methods to make the lithium-ion batteries he was working with rather a lot cheaper and extra environment friendly. “After the roadster launch it was a call to construct my very own firm or keep and do the Mannequin S undertaking,” Berchidevsky says, who left in 2008 and began Sila Nano in 2011. 

The battery outfit has since developed a silicon-based anode to exchange costlier graphite. The fabric may make batteries utilized by Tesla and different EV makers at the least 20% extra environment friendly and finally possibly enhance efficiency by 50%, in line with the corporate. It’s raised $930 million, together with a $590 million spherical in January that boosted Sila Nano’s valuation to an estimated $3.3 billion and offered funds for its first large-scale plant that opens in 2024. “It has been an extended journey, however basically I like to do that.”


Henrik Fisker

Fisker Inc. Cofounder and CEO 

Fisker, a famed designer who as soon as styled a BMW roadster for James Bond and led Aston Martin’s design studio, served as a design advisor for the Mannequin S. Musk didn’t like his design and (unsuccessfully) sued him in 2008 for breach of contract, claiming the Danish entrepreneur took the contract to spy on Tesla (which he denied). Fisker’s first try at a Tesla competitor, the plug-in hybrid Karma luxurious automobile, failed because of a string of issues–battery fires, meeting flaws, even a cargo of vehicles misplaced in a 2012 hurricane. He shut down Fisker Automotive in 2014. 

Now he’s again with a brand new firm, publicly traded Fisker Inc., and on the brink of promote electrical Ocean crossovers. The battery-powered SUV, priced from $37,500, shall be constructed with auto engineering large Magna and compete instantly with Tesla’s Mannequin Y. Fisker, which went public in a 2020 SPAC deal, is a 12 months away from beginning manufacturing, however already has a market capitalization of $4 billion and about $1 billion of money for product improvement. Elevating the funds to launch an automotive startup was a key lesson from the early days.  “The automotive business will not be actually the kind of business that Silicon Valley both ought to or desires to spend money on,” Fisker says, recalling cash issues that arose at Fisker Automotive. “Tesla acquired out of it pretty rapidly…Elon had some huge cash (from PayPal) when he acquired into Tesla, in order that helped. Then he was capable of go public very early in 2010. … We weren’t.”


Peter Rawlinson

Lucid Motors, Cofounder and CEO

Rawlinson, a veteran of Jaguar and Lotus, joined Tesla in 2009. He and Musk “acquired on like a home on fireplace” – at the least at first. “We each obsess about reaching for the celebrities with expertise, and the engineering simply cannot be adequate,” Rawlinson says through Zoom. He was chief engineer for Tesla’s Mannequin S, the 2012 electrical sedan that redefined how good battery-powered vehicles will be. 

He left that very same 12 months to assist handle his ailing mom and after some frustration with Musk over the Mannequin X improvement program.  Now he’s CEO of Lucid Motors, a Newark, California-based electrical car startup charged up with $1.3 billion of funds from Saudi Arabia. Deliveries of top-of-line luxurious electrical Air sedans, capable of go greater than 500 miles per cost and priced at $169,000, start this spring. “I am not competing with Tesla’s product; I’m competing with Mercedes-Benz,” says Rawlinson.


JB Straubel

Redwood Supplies, Founder and CEO

Like Musk, Straubel is a fellow Tesla cofounder and was its chief expertise officer from the electrical carmaker’s earliest days till 2019. His early dream was to make electrical vehicles to chop carbon air pollution.

Now he’s targeted on battery recycling together with his startup Redwood Supplies to make sure that the lithium, cobalt and nickel in used batteries from Teslas and different electrical automobiles keep out of landfills and dumps. The Carson Metropolis, Nevada-based firm introduced a $40 million funding spherical in September 2020, because it begins engaged on recycling tasks with Panasonic and Amazon. “To struggle local weather change, we have to clear up the affect merchandise have on the surroundings,” he stated on the time of the fundraising.  Forbes estimates Straubel has a internet price of $1 billion–assuming he retains a piece of his Tesla shares and based mostly on inventory acquired as board member for QuantumScape, a battery maker backed by Invoice Gates.