Apple and Tesla did meet, but acquisition unlikely says Musk

Madeleine Swain
21 February, 2014
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Apple watching media outlets pricked up their ears this week when it was revealed that in early 2013 Apple had held discussions with Elon Musk, the founder of electric car company Tesla.

Adrian Perica, Apple’s head of acquisitions, was reportedly at that meeting/s and, possibly, Tim Cook – but both Apple and Tesla were unwilling to confirm that talks had actually taken place. Naturally, rumours swirled as to what could have been the subject of the discussions. Acquisition? iOS device integration in Tesla’s cars? A potential battery deal?

But now Musk himself has opened up and, by telephone, talked about the meeting to Bloomberg Television. Well, talking may be overstating it a little. To say he was cagey, would be an understatement. But he did at least confirm that the rumoured meetings occurred.

When on-air journalist Betty Liu asked if there was a possible merger or partnership in the pipeline, Musk hesitated, before replying, “If one or more companies had approached us last year about such things, there’s no way we could really comment on that.”

When pressed, he laughed and admitted, “We had conversations with Apple. I can’t comment on whether those revolved around any kind of acquisition.”

“Are you for sale? If there was a right price, are you for sale,” continued the tenacious Liu. “I think that’s very unlikely, because when you stay super focused on creating a compelling mass market electric car, I’d be very concerned at any kind of acquisition scenario, whoever it is, that we’d become distracted from that task, which has always been the driving goal of Tesla,” concluded Musk, a little disjointedly, but slipping in a neat little pun at the end.

Liu then refers to having known Musk for some years, during which time he has usually been a lot more emphatic in his answers. And she’s right, throughout the short interview, Musk seems to prevaricate, pause and give somewhat slippery responses. When the journalist states that she feels a door is still open, it’s hard not to agree.

After all, ‘very unlikely’ is a world away from ‘definitely not’.

In other words, don’t be rushing to trade in your Prius for a mythical AppleTesla hybrid just yet, but…


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