Former Apple (AAPL) engineer pleads guilty to trade secret theft from self-driving vehicle division

Xiaolang Zhang, a former Apple engineer reached a plea deal after previously pleading not guilty to charges of trade secret theft from the company's car division.


Xiaolang Zhang, a former Apple employee was arrested by federal agents in July 2018 at the San Jose airport. He was accused of stealing computer files containing trade secrets related to the company's unannounced self-driving car division.

U.S. federal prosecutors alleged that Zhang downloaded a 25-page engineering document containing the schematics of main circuit board for Apple's self-driving vehicle project. He had disclosed that he was leaving for a Chinese self-driving car startup Xmotors and booked a last-minute flight immediately upon returning from paternity leave to China. Zhang was arrested after he passed through the TSA checkpoint.

After an initial not guilty plea in 2018, Zhang has reached a plea deal with sentencing set for November. 

The Department of Justice has yet to comment on the plea deal, and Apple is remaining unsurprisingly silent about the matter. According to the complaint, Zhang's last role at Apple was working as a hardware engineer at the company's long-rumored autonomous vehicle division.

Another former Apple engineer, Jizhong Ghen, has pleaded not guilty to trade secret theft and has a court hearing set for August 29.

The self-driving EV market is currently dominated by Tesla, and it would take a tech behemoth like Apple to truly compete against that juggernaut, but so far Apple Car has not been released. Maybe FSD is not ready for primetime, but today's news confirms that Apple was working on an autonomous vehicle framework back in 2018.

A hypothetical mockup of an Apple Car with a charging plug on the bottom of the car. The vehicle is flipped upside down. It is a quite funny image by @JonyIveParody.
A comedic take on the Apple Mouse charger but with an FSD EV twist.

The real question is what kind of dongles will this thing have?

This article is only meant for educational purposes, and should not be taken as investment advice. Please consider your own investment time horizon, risk tolerance, and consult with a financial advisor before acting on this information.

Full Disclosure:

At the time of this article, Shacknews primary shareholder Asif A. Khan, his family members, or his company Virtue LLC had the following positions:

Long Apple via AAPL shares

Long Tesla via TSLA shares


Asif Khan is the CEO, EIC, and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

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