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Elon Musk wanted to take over as Apple CEO from Tim Cook if Tesla sold to Apple, new book says

  • July 30, 2021

While some would compare Elon Musk to Steve Jobs due to their roles as technological visionaries, the Tesla CEO has never crossed over into the former Apple CEO’s field of consumer electronics, choosing instead to focus primarily on electric cars and rockets.

But Musk’s career could have taken a much different direction. He once demanded to be CEO of Apple if he agreed to sell Tesla to the tech giant, according to a new book.

Several years ago – long before Tesla’s ascent to its place as the world’s most valuable automaker on the stock market – the company’s success was far from guaranteed. At the same time, Apple was beginning to dabble in electric vehicle technology.

That’s when then-Apple CEO Tim Cook, who succeeded Jobs, approached Musk with a proposal for Apple to acquire Tesla, according to an advance copy of “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century,” a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins.

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Musk was intrigued and said that he wanted to be CEO – not just of Tesla as a subsidiary but of Apple as a whole if the deal went through, according to the advance copy.

Cook dropped an expletive and hung up, Higgins wrote.

The deal, of course, never happened.

Representatives for Tesla did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment Friday. An Apple representative had no immediate comment.

But in April 2021, Cook told New York Times journalist Kara Swisher: “You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he’s built. I think Tesla has done an unbelievable job of not only establishing the lead but keeping the lead for such a long period of time in the EV space.”

You can follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.

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