How Elon Musk Almost Sold Tesla to Google for $6 Billion in 2013



On Tuesday, Twitter user @sumitgrrg summarized Elon Musk’s 2013 handshake deal with Google to acquire Tesla, which was struggling to survive at the time. If you haven’t heard of this story, it’s one for the ages as part of Tesla’s evolution into a dominant electric automaker.

Dealing with tons of bugs, and an inability to turn reservations into deliveries in a timely fashion, Tesla was surviving on just a couple weeks of cash left, as was also reported by The Guardian in 2015.

In a deal with Google’s former CEO Larry Page, Musk demanded the company purchase Tesla for $6 billion (USD), with another $5 billion (USD) to be allocated for factory expansion. The contract also included Musk’s position, allowing him to run the company for at least 8 years or until Tesla could produce a third-generation electric vehicle (EV).

Sumit’s thread went on to describe Musk’s behavior in the weeks leading up, which included pulling employees from every department into production, firing senior leaders not meeting company expectations, promoting junior employees who were outstanding, and putting billions of personal dollars into ensuring the Model S could meet average market prices.

When moving employees to production and delivery positions, Musk said, “If we don’t deliver these cars, we are fucked. So, I don’t care what job you were doing. Your new job is delivering cars.”

However, in a strange turn of events following Musk’s talks with Page, the roughly 500 remaining employees dedicated to a new job “delivered those cars,” moving enough cars in just two weeks to post its first profit. This caused Tesla shares to shoot from just $30 to $130, effectively rendering the company “too expensive” for Google to purchase.

While talks of selling to Apple also crossed Tesla’s mind between 2017 and 2019, the company’s shares have since risen astronomically, and both Google and Apple have invested into autonomous EV plans of their own.

You can read more about Musk’s Tesla story with Google, within Ashlee Vance’s book, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.


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