For well over a year, there have been rumors and speculations that Apple would buy Tesla. But it was Apple’s arch-rival Google that came pretty close to buying Elon Musk-led electric vehicle maker in 2013. That shocking revelation was made by Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance, the author of the upcoming book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.
Tesla sought a savior in Google
Tesla reported its first-ever quarterly profit on May 8, 2013, riding on the solid demand for its Model S sedan. A few months earlier, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. The Palo Alto-based EV maker was struggling to turn its pre-orders into actual sales. Though Model S is an amazing car, it had several issues when it went for sale in 2012.
Model S was missing many of the features present in other luxury cars like Mercedes and BMW. Many early buyers were annoyed by glitches in the 2012 Model S door handle. Tesla had little resources. At the end of its first-ever profitable quarter, the company had only two weeks worth of cash, says Vance. Tesla executives had hidden the severity of the problem from Elon Musk.
When he discovered the problems, Musk asked Tesla staff from every department to call people who had pre-ordered Model S and convert those reservations into actual sales. “If we don’t deliver these cars, we are f*cked,” Musk told his employees The entire team was on a crisis footing to save Tesla. In March 2013, Musk contacted Google CEO Larry Page. Around the same time, Tesla was forced to quietly shut down its Fremont factory due to low sales volume.
Musk wanted to remain the CEO of Google-owned Tesla
Elon Musk proposed that Google acquire Tesla outright for $6 billion, with a promise for another $5 billion for Tesla’s expansion. He also wanted Larry Page to let him run Google-owned Tesla for at least eight years – until the Model X and third-generation cars hit the roads. Larry Page verbally agreed to Musk’s offer and formal proceedings began.
Soon after, Musk’s demands started bearing fruit. Tesla employees began closing more sales. The company’s sales started skyrocketing and Tesla reported its first ever profit. Subsequently, Musk pulled out of negotiations with Google.