Earlier this week, Business Insider reported that Apple has been quietly hiring a number of engineers from Here, which is a mapping company owned by German automotive giants Audi, BMW, and Daimler.
Apple has hired at least half a dozen employees from Here for a Berlin-based Apple Maps team, according to LinkedIn, but the true figure is likely to be somewhat higher.
A source, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Apple strategically moved in on Here’s talent as the mapping company was passed from Nokia to Microsoft to the German automotive group.
“It’s a simple story: Here was in disarray after Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia,” said the source, who works in the Berlin tech scene. “Apple saw the opportunity and opened an office in Berlin, specifically to siphon Geo Information Systems (GIS) talent.”
The person added: “Three people independently complained to me that Apple opened an office in Berlin specifically to cherrypick at Here.” This claim was backed up by another source on the ground in Berlin.
Here, which provides mapping data, software and services to the automotive, consumer and enterprise sectors, was “bleeding talent” as Microsoft’s deal with the German car consortium went through, the source said. “Things are getting a bit better now, but GIS talent is rare.”
Here said it employs 970 people in Berlin, up from 875 a year ago. Berlin is the company’s third biggest site and employee numbers grew in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Here downplayed the scale of the poaching, and a spokesperson told Business Insider: “Between the Microsoft deal and our acquisition by the German carmakers, the team grew by more than 100 people and our global sales grew significantly over the same time frame. The trend has continued. I state these facts since they contrast with the picture painted by your source.”
Earlier this week, the Here spokesperson said: “As Here has played a large role in establishing the Berlin tech community, it’s pretty typical that other companies will look at our talent.
“But it goes both ways — we have folks in Berlin who have previously worked at Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and so on.”
Apple has never publicly confirmed that it has an office in Berlin. Two Berliners working in the city’s tech industry told Business Insider that they weren’t aware of an Apple office in Berlin.
German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine reported in April that Apple is using a secret Berlin lab to build the Apple Car. The laboratory was reportedly home to 15-20 staff with backgrounds in engineering, software, hardware, and sales. Bloomberg then reported in October that Apple has given up building the Apple Car, for now, choosing instead to focus on developing autonomous driving systems that it could sell to car manufacturers.
Apple and Here did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Apple has hired the following people from Here:
- Khang Tran — a senior software engineer at Here. He joined Apple as a software engineer this month.
- Gilbert Schulz — a program manager at Here. He joined Apple in April and currently works on the Apple Maps team.
- Konstantin Sinitsyn — a senior software engineer at Here. He joined Apple last November as a software engineer.
- Manfred Reich — regional map and content lead, Eastern Europe region at Here. He joined Apple in July 2015 after spending seven years at Here Maps and currently works on the Apple Maps team.
- Andrey Arsentyev — a product manager at Here Maps. He joined Apple in May 2015 and currently works on the Apple Maps team.
- Torsten Krenz — a director at Here where he worked for more than two and a half years. He joined Apple in August 2014 and currently works on the Maps team.
When asked how many people Apple has hired from Here in Berlin and what they’re working on, Sinitsyn said: “I appreciate your interest, but no, I can’t really tell you.”
None of the other former Here employees responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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