Google nearly bought Tesla for $6B in 2013

In a shocking revelation from an upcoming book, Tesla's Elon Musk and Google's Larry Page came to a verbal agreement two years ago. For better or worse, the deal fell through.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
2 min read

Tesla's new Model S 70D Tesla

If you visited Tesla Motors' Fremont, Calif., factory in 2013, you'd have seen a pretty dismal place.

Much of the massive facility -- originally opened in a joint venture by Toyota and General Motors in the '80s -- lay completely empty, and manufacturing was suspended due to slow demand for Tesla's electric-powered cars. Tesla itself was in a bad place. Now, according to new details from Bloomberg's Ashlee Vance in his upcoming book "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," we're learning just how close the maker of electric cars came to being sold.

Musk, Tesla's CEO, began taking bold moves to save the company, according to Vance. He started by pulling members from every division in the company and turning them into salespeople. They were tasked with calling people who had placed reservations for the Model S sedan, closing sales and collecting payments.

In March 2013, Musk made an even more fascinating move: he called Google CEO Larry Page. According to Vance, citing unnamed sources, Musk wanted $6 billion for Tesla, with a promise for another $5 billion in capital to keep the company growing. (Tesla is currently valued at roughly $25 billion.) Musk also wanted guarantees for his own continued involvement and for the continued existence of Tesla as a unified car company.

Musk and Page verbally agreed to the deal and the formalities began, Vance writes. However, soon after, things quickly turned around. Sales started picking up, Tesla started turning a profit, and the deal was off.

With rumors of an Apple car in the works and with Google's own extensive work on self-driving vehicles, it's utterly fascinating to think what Tesla would look like today under a new corporate parent. However, Tesla remains independent and, it must be said, is now quite successful -- if you forgive the constant Model X and Model 3 delays, at least.

Tesla declined to comment. Google was not immediately available for comment.