In a different universe, Apple would’ve shelved its own carmaking plans long ago and simply bought a car company that superficially conforms to Apple’s idea of itself and also seems to have in large part figured out how to mass-produce cars, which is extremely hard: You know, Tesla. That, of course, is not what happened.
But it might’ve, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said today, responding to another Twitter user who posted about Apple’s apparently rebooted car plans.
Tesla’s current market value is about $600 billion, so Musk is talking about Apple spending around $60 billion, which was more or less what Tesla’s valuation was for a number of years. That’s also a number that Apple could easily afford, and indeed might’ve been a great investment for them back in 2017 or 2018, when this theoretical meeting might have occurred.
Except that is very easy to say in hindsight, and back then Tesla very much wasn’t a sure thing. It’s also not totally assured that if Apple had bought Tesla that Tesla would’ve had the same trajectory as it did. What if Apple had bought Tesla and by virtue of doing that stopped its momentum? What if Apple had bought Tesla and decided that Elon wasn’t worth keeping around? What if Apple bought Tesla and decided that Elon didn’t know what the fuck he was doing but Apple did, putting Tesla back to automaking square one?
There are too many what-ifs, in other words, so Monday-morning-quarterbacking is a bit pointless, though you can understand why Elon is eager to spike the football. This could’ve been you, Apple, Elon is saying. Except that another version of this tweet is, “Apple didn’t want to buy my company when things were an absolute shitshow here, wonder why.” It’s true that not a lot of people like to acquire absolute shitshows.
We’ve also been here before. A couple times actually. In ten years, my best guess is that Apple will still be a phone and computer company and Tesla will still be a car company and for both that will have worked out just fine.