Elon Musk has been on a roll when it comes to Apple hires. Hours after the company announced it had hired Apple hotshot programmer Chris Lattner to head its autopilot division, it was reported that the Mac’s senior director of design Matt Casebolt left Apple last month and will now work at Tesla as senior Director of Engineering, closures and mechanisms.
9to5Mac claimed in a report published Wednesday that Casebolt, who has 52 Apple patents to his name, will work for Tesla designing cars instead. Casebolt helped design the first MacBook Air, which shocked the world in 2008 when then-CEO Steve Jobs removed the computer from a manila envelope. At the time, the laptop’s ultra-thin design was groundbreaking.
Casebolt is also known as one of the designers that worked on the “trash can” Mac Pro launched in 2013. Its small, circular design ditched the internal upgradeability of its predecessors, but Apple pushed its ultra-fast Thunderbolt connectivity as a new way of upgrading without opening up the computer. Most recently, he worked on the MacBook Pro’s touch bar, which places a thin touchscreen strip at the top of the keyboard.
How these influences will play into his work at Tesla is anyone’s guess, but throughout his career Casebolt has shown himself as someone committed to simplicity and ease of use. On his LinkedIn page, he described himself as someone who enjoys “diving deep into problems and reducing then to basic principles.”
With Casebolt and Lattner switching sides to help make cars, it’s not looking good for Apple’s “Project Titan” car project. In October, it was reported that rather than making a full-fledged car, Apple has switched gears to reposition Titan as an autonomous driving system for third parties to implement. It’s an idea that received criticism from the press at the time, and after this week’s revelations, it may have hit a roadblock before it ever truly got rolling.
Photos via Matt Casebolt/LinkedIn, Getty Images / Drew Angerer