By on May 22, 2019

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

In what kind of shape would Tesla find itself today if tech giant Apple had acquired the automaker in 2013? That’s a question for analysts to ponder in their off hours, as Apple’s reported offer went nowhere.

Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital Partners, claims specific knowledge of the failed bid, telling CNBC that Apple wished to acquire Tesla for $240 a share — a higher price than the automaker’s stock currently trades at.

Irwin’s remarks bolster, if not outright confirm, rumors that Apple once angled to bring the electric automaker into its corporate fold.

“Around 2013, there was a serious bid from Apple at around $240 a share,” Irwin said. “This is something we did multiple checks on. I have complete confidence that this is accurate. Apple bid for Tesla. I don’t know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible.”

The alleged bid went bust after “Apple wanted Elon Musk to step away,” Irwin said, adding that this “was a deal killer.”

This admission comes a day after Tesla’s once sky-high stock opened trading at under $200 — a remarkable decline from share values just months earlier. On the day of CEO Elon Musk’s fateful go-private tweet, August 7th, Tesla shares hit $379.57. Musk had indicated, via social media, his intention to take the company private at $420 a share. And we all know how that panned out.

Calling Apple’s 2013 bid “very credible,” Irwin said the interest shown in the company then prevents him from being too bearish on Tesla’s stock today.

“If Apple had interest then, they would probably have interest now at the right price,” he commented.

There’s no indication that Apple retains any interest in acquiring the troubled automaker, which ended its last quarter with a $702 million loss. Still, Apple remains interested in fueling the industry’s future, having pivoted from the development of a fully autonomous car to the development of self-driving systems for other automakers. Irwin claims the company is in the process of building large “dry rooms” in California, indicating a focus on lithium-ion battery propulsion.

“My checks are Apple is building several dry rooms, including a couple that are much larger than what you would need for watch or consumer product battery development,” he said.

[Image: Tesla]

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19 Comments on “Would-be Apple-Tesla Deal Kiboshed by Musk, Report Claims...”

  • avatar

    Death Watch….perhaps?

  • avatar

    ‘Calling Apple’s 2013 bid “very credible,” Irwin said the interest shown in the company then prevents him from being too bearish on Tesla’s stock today.’

    Translation: “My firm is long TSLA and I’m releasing 6 year old news/rumors trying to boost the price so I can escape before the bottom falls out”

    • 0 avatar

      This. There’s no way TSLA will be acquired given the way they run their business, by Apple (who doesn’t like to do big acquisition).

      The same way Carl Ichan pump and dump his AAPL shares using those “Apple Car” rumors back then.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Six-year-old non-news, cleverly timed with a downturn of TSLA lately.

  • avatar

    I wonder if Musk would have been part of the deal? Difficult to imagine him having supervision…that would have probably blown up pretty quickly unless Apple was willing to burn cash endlessly.

    Ironically here in Indiana, the Apple store and the Tesla boutique were right across from each other in a mall. Not sure if the Tesla sales point is still open.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “a higher price than the automaker’s stock currently trades at.”

    My eighth grade English teacher is rolling in her grave. Ending a sentence with a preposition was good for an “F” in her class.

  • avatar

    Having significant holdings in AAPL — THANK GOD.

  • avatar

    Much like Tesla, Apple’s car project was out of control with crazy amounts of money being spent and over a thousand people doing “R&D”. It was so bad that Tim Cook hired former hardware chief Bob Mansfield out of retirement to see what the hell was going on. Mansfield brought some needed sanity, slashed most of the projects and fired 2/3 of the people. He easily saved Apple $2B-$3B a year in unnecessary expenses.

    If Musk ever gets the boot from Tesla, look for Bob Mansfield to enter the running as his replacement. He is likely the one person with the experience and temperament needed to save the company.

    • 0 avatar

      By killing off the EV and AV activities of Tesla?

      • 0 avatar

        No, by killing off Solar City and the silly roof tiles, the wall battery, and several other projects that are distractions from the main goal of producing and selling EVs at a profit.

        • 0 avatar

          Solar City is dying on the vine from inattention. Roof tiles aren’t in volume production and there’s no timeline for it. Wall batteries are backordered because the batteries are needed for cars. I’d say what you suggest is already happening, but I’m not sure it’s actually good for the company.

  • avatar

    If Apple purchased Tesla, with its 300 billion cash in the bank and Apple fanboy based; Apple would clean the EV marketplace one and for all to be the supreme all mighty BEV king for eternity!

    • 0 avatar

      That’s an interesting thought. I wonder how much (if any) emotional synergy would result from such a combination. I don’t see where one would provide some significant IP that the other doesn’t already have.

      Apple is one of the few entities outside of sovereign-wealth funds with the financial wherewithal capable of making a bid. But auto manufacturing is a capital-intensive business with comparatively low margins at the best of times. That’s not Apple’s shtick.

    • 0 avatar

      Makes sense. Between the Teslas with Apple stickers and the Apple laptops with Tesla stickers, I’d say there’s a pretty big crossover of the “I want the best/most groundbreaking and I’m willing to pay more for it” crowd.

      One thing Tesla should learn from Apple: don’t cheapen the brand. Nobody wants an iPod Shuffle. And while plenty of people “want” a $35k base Model 3, there’s no sense in producing one if it loses money. A Chevy Bolt is essentially an electric Honda Fit and a Model 3 is essentially an electric BMW 3-series; nobody in their right mind expects to get a 3-series for the price of a Fit.

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