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Elon Musk almost sold Tesla to Google in 2013 for $6 billion

Elon Musk nearly did the seemingly unthinkable and verbally agreed to sell Tesla to Google for $6 billion in 2013.

Just a few short months ago, we heard rumors that Apple may be in the works on its own car. We also heard calls from around the Internet’s series of tubes that, instead of simply creating a car from scratch, the tech giant should instead simply buy Tesla.

Some of us scoffed at the idea, myself included, believing that Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk would never let his electric car project fall into the hands of anyone else. Seems truth is stranger than theory.

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A new excerpt from the book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future published on Bloomberg Business by Ashlee Vance paints a picture of a floundering Tesla and of a CEO ready to unload the company to Google, in order to save it.

“Musk … also began negotiating a deal to sell the company to Google through his friend Larry Page.” — Bloomberg

Without slow sales and few prospects on the horizon in 2013, Musk turned his workforce away from their current positions and turned them into to a sales force. “I don’t care what job you were doing. Your new job is delivering cars,” Musk instructed his employees.

Musk forced his employees to call anyone who had put reservations for the Model S and to collect on their order. Musk himself picked up the phone and called Google CEO Larry Page. Musk reported requested $6 billion for the company with another $5 billion in capitol to keep the company solvent. Amazingly, Page verbally agreed to the proposal.

Not long after, however, Musk’s new sales strategy proved a success, and the upstart EV automaker began turning a profit. As soon as that happened, Musk called off the deal.

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Some might see Tesla as here to stay, but remember, the last automaker to start and survive on its own in the U.S. was Chrysler. All others have failed. So there’s good chance that if Tesla can’t turn around and begin selling its long-promised third and fourth models, the Model X and the Model 3, it might need to consider a sale some day. Especially if it begins seeing competition from known and established automakers like Chevrolet and Porsche.

After all, flash in the pan PR tactics can only keep a company going for so long. Eventually, it will need to release, you know, new products to keep sales continuing upward.