By on May 23, 2018

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

As Tesla’s upper ranks shed members like a bad tennis club, a new executive is poised to tackle the automaker’s engineering portfolio.

Stuart Bowers, formerly the vice president of monetization engineering for social media platform Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, will soon don the title of VP of engineering at Tesla. That’s good news for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently lost — perhaps temporarily — his senior VP of engineering.

Doug Fields’ claimed sabbatical earlier this month was the last in a flurry of departures from the Palo Alto, California automaker. In its wake, Musk announced a flattening of his company’s corporate structure, along with new hires to support the Model 3 production ramp.

“To ensure that Tesla is well prepared for the future, we have been undertaking a thorough reorganization of our company,” the CEO stated in a memo to staff.

As reported by Cheddar, Bowers’ new role will see him working on a number of engineering files, including the company’s Autopilot software. A spokesperson at Snap stated Bowers “has long had a dream to pursue his passion for robotics and we wish him the best.”

Jim Keller, who once headed up Tesla’s Autopilot division, quit the company in April before setting up shop at Intel. Other departures this spring included Matthew Schwall, the company’s main technical contact with U.S. safety investigators, who left for rival Waymo. Before that, sales chief Jon McNeill headed over to Lyft.

Bowers’ time at Snap was a troubled one, with the company struggling to win over users with its redesigned Snapchat app. Some 120 layoffs occurred in the company’s engineering department in March. Before joining Snap, Bowers worked at Facebook.

[Image: Tesla]

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25 Comments on “From Snapchat Parent to Tesla: Automaker Gains New VP of Engineering...”


  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    It seems like Tesla needs less “new economy” expertise and more “old economy” engineering know-how… tool and die engineers, quality control experts, industrial & production workflow engineers, etc. What the heck is a “monetization engineer”? I don’t remember seeing that major offered at University.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      Agreed. More Snap-On than Snapchat. More Wranglers than skinny jeans. More Maxwell House than macchiatto.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Monetization engineer is likely someone that figures out how to make money on “free” apps and social media platforms – so something more likely to be learned in the business school than engineering school. Tesla definitely needs help in learning how to make money, but I don’t think this type of engineering is going to help.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        “Tesla definitely needs help in learning how to make money…”

        In descending order of importance:

        1) Stop making asinine mistakes in design, engineering and production that require expensive fixes after the fact.

        2) Refine the existing, but still popular, Model S and Model X to the point they can justify HIGHER prices (and some semblance of profitability) against luxury competition. Do this by improving materials and build quality, NOT piling on even more dubious technology.

        3) Abandon all hope in the near future of a $35K Model 3 and, like the S and X above, refine higher end versions that command more money. Profit is king.

        4) Lock Elon inside SpaceX HQ where he still seems to be doing at least some good. Take away his cell phone and Twitter access.

        For my consulting fee I’ll accept a cashier’s check or (ironically) PayPal.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      “Stuart Bowers, formerly the vice president of monetization engineering for social media platform Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, will soon don the title of VP of engineering at Tesla.”

      This is going to be interesting. So basically this guy worked at Snap trying to figure out how to make money from a shoddy picture sharing platform, and now he has a leading design role at Tesla? Id sooner see a true EE in that sort of role, or better yet a tool and die veteran that knows their stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      >From Snapchat Parent to Tesla: Automaker Gains New VP of Engineering…

      And loses another staff member with some semblance of automotive experience in the process.”

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    Shouldn’t the VP of Engineering for a purported automaker have… I dunno, at least SOME experience in automotive engineering, versus “monetization” of social media?

    Or are those more qualified candidates avoiding Tesla like the plague?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You triggered me.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Most engineers would love the opportunity to work for Tesla. Which makes their current pick very questionable…

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Agreed, Bowers is filler. Maybe it reassures casual shareholders… “Look, we filled the position!”

        Behind the scenes, I imagine Bowers would rely heavily on the chief engineer and just coordinate people, resources, and numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      I work for a company that does IT for over a hundred smallish financial institutions. The original systems were NCR mainframes. The guy who founded the company transitioned over to Oracle databases.

      About a year later he retired. I asked him why. He said with the old system you couldn’t BS him, you could with the new and he was an old dog that didn’t want to learn new tricks. We did need to join the 21st century but he realized he wasn’t the guy for the 21st century.

      You can’t paper over hardware problems with software if you don’t understand hardware. I think he’s going to get BSed.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I wish he’d bring Bob Lutz on board if for no other reason then the sheer entertainment factor.

    He could bring in Iacocca and do those old school Chrysler ads with Lee pointing at the screen and proclaiming “The model 3…if you can find the car… Buy It!”

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    It’s Tesla Deathwatch.

    I’m not even remotely joking.

    If anyone with the initiative wants to see why, check out their financials, incredible difficulty scaling up production (on vehicles that they currently lose money on), their cash burn rate, their bond/credit ratings, and their other MANY problems.

    They could have potentially attracted a suitor to acquire them maybe in the 2013-2016 period, but now, I high,y doubt it, given the rapid progress that established, well-capitalized automakers that have mastered high-quality’ consistent, mass production have made in the EV space (BMW, GM, Porsche, Volkswagen…even Nissan is about field much longer range,,lower priced EVs, just to name a few).

    Tesla Toasted.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Deck chairs, Titanic, etc.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    [Spoiler Alert]- Monetization engineer”=BEAN COUNTER !!!
    [Spoiler Alert]- Monetization engineer”=BEAN COUNTER !!
    [Spoiler Alert]- Monetization engineer”=BEAN COUNTER !!!
    Middle Aged Man (Ex-Miata Owner) has it exactly right.
    An over-hyped ego-inflated pointy-headed SWJ no doubt with no idea of electrical or mechanical engineering will not know a thing about heading an Engineering department. Watch out for that ICEBERG !

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Totally agree with the sentiment: old-school car companies totally know more about manufacturing than Tesla, at least from my point of view, which is obviously the outside.

    I’m a software guy – I know a lot about how software gets written, etc. And over time, I’ve acquired a little bit of handy-man know-how, like how to build stuff out of wood, etc. and have it turn out ok, and even the occasional metal-based project. But I’d never claim to know more than my father, who is a retired welder/machinist/tool-and-die maker who apprenticed in Germany in the 50s and worked mainly on airplane and helicopter parts. Even though he knows almost nothing about tech, he could probably out-estimate, out-prototype and out-weld most guys at Tesla in steel or aluminum. But he’s not “woke” and doesn’t know Apple vs. Android is even a thing, so Tesla’s not interested in his skillset.

    Instead, let’s bring on more failed Facebook/Linkedin/Yahoo/AOL/whatever flunkies who totally know about “monetizing market-based demographic micro-trends” or whatever bullshit they want to spew today, but have little to no experience trying to build pieces of metal to spec, and then assembling two slightly-out-of-spec pieces in such a way that it works and is acceptable in terms of fit.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      Comming from Facebook/Linkedin/Yahoo/AOL/whatever doesn’t mean you can’t learn but most likely won’t be there long enough to learn.

      Their motto is “Have gun – will travel”. If Tesla is still around in 3-4 years I wonder how many of the suits presently employed will still be employed at Tesla.

      “I’m a software guy – I know a lot about how software gets written, etc.” And it can be not very pretty. I do this for a living also. With software you can add all kinds of barnacles to code to make the program do something it wasn’t designed to originally do. I would think it would be a bit tougher with physical objects.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I suspect working for Musk is like having a continuous root canal.

    The executive suite revolving door will continue until Musk is removed as CEO, or until Tesla goes bankrupt.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Ah, all you naysayers like me. A real Wall Streetⁿ expert firm has spoken: Tesla to rally 50% because media negativity is ‘increasingly immaterial’: Baird.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/23/buy-tesla-because-media-negativity-is-increasingly-immaterial-baird.html

    So there. Give those Wall Streeters airline tickets and rubber mallets and they can assist in the fit and finish dept for the Model 3, thus protecting their good names as parasitic stock price guessers. Maybe they can get initial sheet metal bashing instructions from the ex-Snapchat monetization man. He’ll have had a couple of days on the job by then.

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