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That Time Google Almost Bought Tesla Motors

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Musk no longer needed someone to pull his company out of a rut. Today, Tesla Motors is worth nearly $26.5 billion
Musk no longer needed someone to pull his company out of a rut. Today, Tesla Motors is worth nearly $26.5 billion

Do you remember that time that Google almost bought Tesla Motors? A new book, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, due to be published May 19, shows just how close such a deal came.

We’ve touched on the possibility of a tech company buying Tesla Motors a couple of times, but for some reason assumed that it would have been Apple. Of course, we don’t have an “Apple” car today, but recent revelations by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk show just how close we could have been to waxing poetic on a “Google” electric car knocking our socks off.

Tesla Motors, before 2013, was not exactly the picture of a healthy company. Struggling to keep manufacturing up with preorders, as well as addressing glitches and bad press, the company was practically leaking money. Musk quietly shut down production and looked for a way to keep the company afloat, turning to Google CEO Larry Page, suggesting a buyout, but with a few caveats.

Musk wanted Page to buy Tesla Motors, for something on the order of $6 billion, and put in another $5 billion to resume production of the Tesla Model S, as well as make it to Musk’s third-stage vehicle, the mass-production Tesla Model III. Musk also said he wanted to stay on as CEO, and that Google would promise not to liquidate the company for at least eight years. Page and Musk made a handshake deal on it, and the rest would be up to the lawyers.

Still, Musk hadn’t given up on Tesla Motors, making some sweeping rearrangements to management (read: slash and burn) and perhaps thousands of sales calls went out on the Tesla Model S, not to mention making resale value promises, guaranteed out of his own pocket. The tactics worked, and Tesla Model S were practically flying off the showroom floors, and Tesla Motors posted its first-ever profit as a company. Then, Musk paid off its entire loan, in cash, nine years early.

The end of the story: Musk no longer needed someone to pull his company out of a rut. Today, Tesla Motors is worth nearly $26.5 billion, (NASDAQ: TSLA) with no signs of stopping its success.

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