Apple "Somehow Survived" Without Tesla, BBG Op-Ed Lampoons

Not only was it hilarious seeing Elon Musk, in all his hubris, thinking he was taking a shot at Apple this past week when he revealed that Tim Cook wouldn’t give him the time of day, but even more delightful has been the backlash. In addition to Musk being ridiculed on social media, major op-eds in the media are starting to do bits at his expense. 

“Tim Cook must be gutted,” a new opinion piece by Liam Denning in Bloomberg starts by saying. He called the news of Apple declining to purchase Tesla “an early Christmas present”.

Denning postulates that Musk’s lashing out about Apple was probably more about distracting from the news of a serious competitor entering the market.  “…the gossamer-veiled dig at Cook’s apparent short-sightedness contained in the Tesla CEO’s tweet suggests this may be more about taking the shine off Apple’s rumored vehicle ambitions,” the op-ed says. 

The op-ed also points out the irony of Musk reaching out to Apple, after he took swipes at the company: “There is also some history here, given Musk once dissed Apple as a “graveyard” for defecting Tesla employees. That was a few years before he apparently reached out to the chief gravedigger.”

Denning rightly points out in his op-ed what we said earlier this week – that Musk’s “funding secured” tweet apparently came during the very same “dark days” when Musk was trying to offload the company to Apple. 

He also notes that Tesla’s valuation “shot up” right around the same time that Apple tacked on most of its $1.4 trillion in valuation it gained since 2018. Both valuations gained during 2020, Denning notes. “It’s almost like something bigger might be going on,” he says.

Paging Masa Son…

The piece concludes by speculating that Tesla will use its stock’s recent run-up to recapitalize the business – an assumption that makes sense. But it also notes that Tesla could be facing its biggest challenge yet if Apple wants to enter the market and not truly compete. 

“In that context, it’s worth noting that Apple spends $14 on R&D for every dollar Tesla does,” Denning concludes. “Cook’s company also generates as much free cash flow in 10 days as Tesla does in a whole year . If he wants to make a splash in the car business, he’s probably got what it takes.”

Recall, earlier this week, Musk admitted that during the Model 3’s “darkest days”, he reached out to Apple and that Tim Cook didn’t respond.

“During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting,” Musk tweeted.

Tesla stock has been hampered to some degree this short trading week after we noted that Apple was throwing its hat into the self-driving car business on Monday. In addition to designing self-driving vehicles, Reuters also reported that Apple’s cars could “include its own breakthrough battery technology”.

Apple’s development project, called “Project Titan” was rumored to have been shelved after first starting in 2014. However, former Tesla executive Doug Field returned back to Apple in 2018 to work on the project before laying off 190 people from the team in 2019. But since then, “Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers”, Reuters noted.