Electric two-wheeler maker Mission Motors shuts after losing top talent to Apple

Mission Motors filed, which for bankruptcy in September, ceased operations in May after  some top talent left to take up positions at Apple, Reuters reported yesterday.

Before it closed, Mission was an electric motorcycle builder founded in 2007 which also supplied electric vehicle components.

The private, VC-funded operation had only 35 employees. According to commentators the small size explained why a few key hires by Apple could allegedly collapse the company. Apple is said to have hired key personnel from other, much larger companies, including Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla.

Apple is said to be working on a secret automotive project at a facility called "SG5" in Sunnyvale, California, under the cover of a shell company named "SixtyEight Research."

Apple has so heavily drawn from engineering talent at Tesla, particularly, as to have negatively affected Tesla's own internal product development, AppleInsider cited sources as saying in September.

Early this year electric vehicle battery maker A123 Systems sued Apple over alleged illegal poaching (See: Battery maker A123 Systems sues Apple for poaching staff).

The heavy talent loss forced A123 to shut down several projects, even as it contributed to "a large scale [Apple] battery division to compete in the very same field," A123 claimed in its suit.

According to industry insiders, as tech giants sought to define the future of personal transportation, offering salaries and a more secure future, the defections could end up severely battering startups.

According to people close to Mission Motors, it had, by last fall, reach a point of no return with increasing poaching by Apple, and other companies, and continued struggle to find funding and a sound business model.

However, according to former chief executive Derek Kaufman, the company would have survived had it not lost key employees, undermining efforts to raise funding.

''Mission had a great group of engineers, specifically electric drive expertise,'' Kaufman said, Reuters reported. ''Apple knew that - they wanted it, and they went and got it.''