The Tesla Mafia: Elon Musk’s Ex-Employees Vie To Become His Top Rival

Anderson arrived at Tesla in 2013 to work on the Model X crossover and helped launch Tesla’s pursuit of self-driving technology by leading the development of its Autopilot driver-assist feature. “I liken it to serving in the trenches together,” he says of his time there. “You build a real bond in a high-pressure environment like that.”

The MIT-trained scientist left in 2016 to cofound self-driving startup Aurora Innovation, joined by former Google self-driving car chief Chris Urmson and Carnegie Mellon University AI researcher Drew Bagnell. Aurora has raised more than $1 billion and, in December 2020, acquired Uber’s autonomous unit, boosting the odds it’ll be a major player in autonomous vehicle technology. So far, it’s lined up tech partnerships with Uber, truck maker Paccar and Toyota. The Silicon Valley startup’s valuation jumped to an estimated $10 billion, following the Uber acquisition.