Apple should snap up a stake in Tesla, an investor in the automotive company claimed on Monday, who described CEO Elon Musk’s search for a group to help take Tesla private as the “gift of all gifts” to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Ross Gerber argued that the iPhone maker has strong manufacturing operations but it’s lagging behind in innovation, while Tesla is in the exact opposite situation.
“If you look at actually what Elon’s problems are every day, they are operational, which is why Tim Cook was hired by Steve Jobs back in the day. Cook is perfect for this role. In the past Apple and Tesla probably wouldn’t have gotten along because Musk didn’t need Apple, but it is clear he needs help,” Tesla investor Ross Gerber told CNBC. “My biggest fear with Apple is that they have fallen so far behind in the innovation curve, I don’t see where they will be five years from now. I don’t think phones are going to be the primary device in a decade.”
Musk has caused a stir since he unexpectedly announced a plan to buy Tesla stock at a price of $420 per share, 20 percent higher than the $350 rate on the day of the announcement, and take it off the stock market. But the plan — which would cost over $70 billion if every investor exercized that right — sparked questions about where the money would come from. A follow-up blog post claimed there was no question a deal with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund could be closed.
Apple has been quietly exploring autonomous cars with the “Project Titan” initiative, but it’s unclear whether the finished product will look like a car, a research project for A.I., or something else. An October 2016 report claimed Apple would build a suite for third-party manufacturers rather than a full car, a heavily-criticized plan. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed this month that a car would launch around 2023 and 2025.
The company may not have long to move on a Tesla deal. A three-person board committee has been tasked with reviewing Musk’s proposal, putting the CEO in the position of finalizing an investment deal as soon as possible.
Musk, however, has thought little of an Apple deal in the past. In a May 2017 interview, he laughed at the prospect.