Although still a relative newcomer with just a handful of vehicles in its stable, Tesla Motors – and by proxy, Elon Musk – is now regarded as one of the most influential figures in technology. Few realize, however, that his coveted electric vehicle business was on the verge of bankruptcy just two years ago.
In an excerpt from the upcoming book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, sources familiar with the matter claim that upon learning just how bad off the company was in early 2013, Musk assembled a team comprised of employees from nearly every division within Tesla and instructed them to close sales from people that had reserved Teslas but hadn't yet pulled the trigger.
A substantial restructuring was also put into motion but in the meantime, Musk was working on a backup plan. People familiar with the matter said Musk reached out to Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page regarding a potential acquisition.
The two sides surprisingly got pretty far into negotiations before the whole thing was called off. Musk wanted Google to pay $6 billion to buy Tesla outright and fork over another $5 billion in capital for factory expansions. Musk further demanded that Google not break up or shut down the company before it had the opportunity to build its mainstream electric car.
Page reportedly agreed and shook on the deal. Fortunately for Tesla, however, specific terms regarding financial demands kept lawyers on both sides busy for a bit.
In the meantime, Tesla’s heavy push to sell cars started paying off in a big way. The sinking company managed to sell enough cars in the quarter to turn an $11 million profit. Share value skyrocketed on the news which allowed the company to repay its $465 million loan from the U.S Department of Energy, with interest. The acquisition was off the table.