New book reveals that Elon Musk almost sold Tesla to Google in 2013

20 Apr 2015

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Elon Musk has often been dubbed ‘a real life Tony Stark’, but it’s hard to imagine Iron Man selling Stark Enterprises to Google because the company was floundering.

Yet according to Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, the forthcoming book by Bloomberg journalist Ashlee Vance, Musk agreed to sell Tesla Motors to Google in early 2013. The electric car manufacturer's Model S car was struggling to convert enough pre-orders into orders, and bankruptcy was said to be a possibility.

Musk was seeking a reported US$6bn for the company, as well as agreements that he be retained as CEO and Google invest another US$5bn in factory expansion.

Musk, Google co-founder Larry Page, and the company's lawyers, proceeded to negotiate the specific terms of the deal. But on 8 May, 2013, Tesla posted its first-ever quarterly profit, with higher-than-expected demand for its Model S electric sedan behind the firm's turnaround in fortunes.

Within a fortnight the company’s shares had doubled, Tesla had repaid its US$465m loan from the US Department of Energy with interest, and Musk chose not to pursue the sale.

Despite that dramatic turnaround, recent figures haven't appeared as positive. An earnings report published in February showed that despite building 12,000 cars during the fourth quarter of last year, Tesla sold only 9,834 vehicles.

However, the company issued a statement clarifying its sales figures and said that the lower sales figure does not represent the true figure, as a number of orders had been pushed out to the first quarter of 2015.

Elon Musk image via Shutterstock

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com