For a little over a year, self-driving vehicle technology has been a hot topic and a heavy investment piece at companies like Tesla, Google, Apple and more. It appears that the engineers were paid so much at Google, that they were eventually able to quit and start their own companies.
According to Bloomberg,
"Early staffers had an unusual compensation system that awarded super-sized payouts based on the project's value. By late 2015, the numbers were so big that several veteran members didn't need the job security anymore, making them more open to other opportunities."
The unique pay system was started in 2010 when Google was just beginning to gain momentum by unveiling its first self-driving vehicle. It was devised so that employees would have an incentive and was based on the performance of the project. While this is not uncommon in many work environments, Google's would add in special multipliers that would kick in. Although the criteria to gain these multipliers are unknown, the self-driving program did well, resulting in employees with huge payments. This would eventually lead to staff departures with some moving to new start-ups and even starting their own self-driving technology companies.
As time passes, the playing field will become increasingly competitive, and will surely become an interesting space to watch over the next few years.