Tesla has a lot of irons in the fire at the same time. They're ramping up production on the Model S electric sedan and the Model X electric crossover while building a worldwide network of stores, service centers, and Supercharger stations, while building the world's biggest battery factory (powered by renewable energy), while putting the last touches on the upcoming Model 3 EV (as well as some still unannounced models -- an electric pickup truck anyone?), while building out Tesla Energy and writing complex software so that cars can drive themselves. Just one of these tasks would be enough to occupy a regular company, but Elon Musk wants to do it all quickly.
As a result of all this activity and growth, the company has been on a perpetual hiring spree, especially in the past 5 years, creating thousands of good "green" jobs. It took about 7 years to get to a thousand employees (they had 899 at the end of 2010), but in the following 5 years, they hired 13,000 more employees, bringing the total to over 14,000 today.
That's not the end point: Tesla has about 1,600 positions open, and filings reveal that they plan to hire at least 4,500 people in the next 4 years (they had to reveal that for a tax credit application). Chances are, if all goes well, they'll hire even more people than that... And that's probably not counting jobs at sub-contractors like the construction companies building the Gigafactory in Nevada, and those at suppliers making parts for Tesla.
The company's latest push is for software engineers to work on the Autopilot feature that allows Tesla's to drive themselves under some conditions. Elon Musk made a call for applicants on Twitter:
Ramping up the Autopilot software team at Tesla to achieve generalized full autonomy. If interested, contact email@example.com.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2015
We are looking for hardcore software engineers. No prior experience with cars required. Please include code sample or link to your work.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2015
Should mention that I will be interviewing people personally and Autopilot reports directly to me. This is a super high priority.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2015
This is just one more piece of evidence that the company sees Autopilot as crucial. I've written about how they might be thinking about creating a kind of Uber competitor with self-driving EVs.