What's Up With Apple: Really Big Bonuses, Foxconn Warning and More

For a while there, it seemed like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was losing at least one senior engineer every day. Departures from the company’s Apple Car project got most of the attention because the company’s top talent was leaving to build electric air taxis.

Apple reportedly is fighting back with huge restricted-stock bonuses that fully vest over four years in an effort to keep certain engineers from defecting to Meta Platforms/Facebook or to chipmakers, some hardware and software companies and even some operations talent.

According to a report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, the surprise bonuses ranged in value from $50,000 to $180,000. The bonus payments were awarded to as many as 20% of engineers in the identified groups. Apple did not comment on the report.

Gurman noted that Meta has hired about 100 engineers away from Apple in the past few months and that Apple has also managed to lure some key Meta staff: “The two companies are likely to become fierce rivals in augmented- and virtual-reality headsets and smartwatches, with both planning major hardware releases over the next two years.”

Apple has put Foxconn’s Chennai, India, iPhone assembly plant on probation following a food poisoning incident early last week and an investigation that uncovered substandard worker dormitories and dining rooms. The Indian Express cited an Apple spokesperson:

We found that some of the remote dormitory accommodations and dining rooms being used for employees do not meet our requirements and we are working with the supplier to ensure a comprehensive set of corrective actions are rapidly implemented. … Foxconn’s Sriperumbudur [Chennai] facility has been placed on probation and we will ensure our strict standards are met before the facility reopens. We will continue to monitor conditions closely.

In a statement, Foxconn said it was “restructuring” the local management team and its systems “to ensure we can achieve and maintain the high standards that are needed.” The company also said it would continue to pay employees while making the improvements, even though the plant is shut down.

Adding to Foxconn’s headaches, China’s most prominent member of Apple’s far-flung supply chain is building a 285,000-square meter (about 3.1 million square feet) assembly plant in Jiangsu province. According to a Nikkei Asia report picked up by the Financial Times, Luxshare Precision Industry is investing $1.72 billion in the plant and will “churn out millions of iPhones as early as next year.”

In August, Nikkei Asia reported that Luxshare would build about 3% of Apple’s planned production of 95 million iPhone 13s.

Briefly noted:

Apple has won a patent for a single- or double-Touch ID remote controller that could be included with future iterations of an Apple TV or a new home automation product that covers TV, home devices and all the other things that may one day be controlled digitally. According to Patently Apple, the patent does not cover a design but is, instead, “a utility patent conveying the delivery of a biometrics system being included with a remote.”

Apple moved further away from a $3 trillion market cap on Tuesday. Shares closed down about 0.6% at $179.29. The share price has to be close to $183 in order for Apple to become the first company ever to hit that milestone.

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