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Who is really Innovating at Tesla Motors?

Innovation Talent Talent Acquisition Talent Management Tesla

If you follow tech news and start-up activity like we do at ipQuants, you can probably relate to the following: you read an interesting article about an innovative company, such as @teslamotors and start to wonder:

“Who are the key innovators at that company?”

We humans just have a deeply curious nature. As Albert Einstein famously said:

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Tesla being without doubt one of the more innovative companies in recent years, let’s focus on Tesla this time around.

One of the best sources for identifying innovators is patent data. The only problem? It is extremely complex to extract valuable statistical information from all those patents. Let us try anyway.

A good starting point is to get statistics about the individual inventor share with respect to the total patent filings of Tesla Motors. In other words, how frequent is any particular inventor at Tesla mentioned on Tesla patents?


Top 5 Inventor share of total publications at Tesla Motors with applied time filter.

Restricting our query to patents filed in the last 5-years only, we see that Scott Kohn seems to be a key inventor and one of the main innovators at Tesla Motors. He is an inventor on roughly 14% of all Tesla patent filings since 2012! Thus, we almost instantly identified the key innovator at Tesla Motors. Based on the LinkedIn profile of Scott Kohn, he is a manager within the battery technology group at Tesla.

Well, that is all interesting, but “battery technology” is a pretty broad term. Our curiosity obviously leads us to the next obvious question:

What is he really working on!?

Luckily, by clustering his patent filings into various tech sectors, we can get a good understanding of which specific technology fields he is active within without the need to spend endless hours reading all the actual patents.

By quantifying all his patents into such specific tech fields, we obtain the following top three tech sectors for Scott Kohn’s patents:


Top three technology sectors of recent Scott Kohn patents.

It follows that Scott Kohn is mainly innovating within the battery safety tech field, such as battery over-discharge protection. Such detailed insights are highly valuable, when you are sourcing for new talent or want to better understand what your key competitor is actually woking on.

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