Tim Cook calls up Elon Musk. “Good morning. Apple wants to buy Tesla. It’s incredible.” Elon’s into it but, one condition — “I’m CEO!” Ok, two conditions, Apple has to pay in DogeCoins. Kidding! I think! Kinda! Tim’s like, “stay CEO of Tesla? Cool, cool, cool, maybe” But Elon’s like, “Nope, hard nope. CEO of Apple.” Tim eye-rolls 360, “#$%^ off”, and then hangs up… Hangs up.
All this as only slightly less ridiculously hyped in a new book about Elon Musk as reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, re-blogged by the Daily Mail, tweet-bombed by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, and then burned across the internet at the warp 10 plus speed of social tea spills.
Now, I love, all-caps LOVE fiery Tim Cook. Because he’s usually so beyond southern calm and controlled. So, back in 2014, when he tells an investment group critical of Apple’s work on the environment or accessibility:
“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI” (return on investment), when I think about doing the right thing, I don’t think about an ROI. If that’s a hard line for you, then you should get out of the stock.”
Or back in January of this year, when talking about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook prioritizing conspiracy theories and misinformation just for the engagement:
If a business is built on misleading users on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform
But calling up Elon Musk, dropping the f-bomb, and then hanging up? That would be the mega warp fusion final Digi-evolution form of fiery Tim Cook.
Mark presented it as another perspective on this December 22, 2020 tweet from Musk:
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.
At the time, Apple was iterating away from the original Project Titan under Dan Riccio. The one Jony Ive’s Industrial Design team had modeled cars for, that original Project Purple iPhone engineering leads had returned to Apple to work on, that ideas like new languages, new bug reporting systems, whole new NeXT… NeXT like futures were being considered for, well outside the Infinite Loop of Cupertino.
Bob Mansfield was coming back, and hell… of a lot of changes were coming with him. Including a huge turnover in staffing, and in focus — away from a specific end-product and towards the autonomous systems that’d be required for a range of future products to ingest, contextualize, understand, and act and react on the world around them.
So maybe the timing was bad or the culture match was bad, the idea of Elon Musk running Tesla inside Apple like Jimmy Iovine had run Beats, or outside Apple, the way Filemaker has seemingly been run, for all time, always, just… non starters.
Who knows. Musk never elaborated on Twitter and Bloomberg never really followed up on anything beyond the tweet. And Cook… well, he can make the Sphinx seem chatty.
Until we get to this new book, and what sounds like the Mirror Universe Tim Cook calling up Gotee Elon Musk, in the exact opposite scenario from Musk’s.
But Twitter was on the case! I guess because Reddit was still busy trying to identify Guardians of the Galaxy Easter eggs in The Suicide Squad. But whatever!
Gurman quickly raised Kara Swisher’s April 5, 2021 interview with Tim Cook, where she asked about Musk’s tweet, and Cook said:
You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he’s built.
Then Elon Musk himself called, tweeting that the book managed to be both false and boring and that:
Cook & I have never spoken or written to each other ever. There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla. There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet. Tesla was worth about 6% of today’s value.
But then Seth Weintraub, founder of the 9to5 Empire went all in, Tweeting a photo of Tim Cook and Elon Musk sitting at a White House function together in 2016, with only an Oracle CEO, Safra Catz between them.
So, is it hard to imagine Tim Cook wouldn’t have at least said Good Morning and Elon Musk at least asked if Cook was long on Bitcoin? Or tried to suss out Cook’s interest in Musk’s Space X carrying the secret Apple Satellite network to the stars?
Well, as anyone who’s been to a Thanksgiving Dinner in the last decade can tell you, sharing a table is no indicator of sharing a conversation. But it’s also possible they meant no substantive talks, least of all about a Tesla acquisition.
So, real, fake, or just really fake? Let me know what you think. But Tim Higgins, who works for the Wall Street Journal, and authored the book, responded to the brewing bruhaha saying:
Musk was given plenty of opportunities to comment on this. He didn’t. This anecdote comes from Musk’s own account of the conversation, according to people who heard the retelling at the time.
There was no indication of whether that was immediately following Musk’s famous, or infamous, appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast.
Higgins did add:
this is a story that was told inside Tesla as the company struggled with the Model X, according to people who heard it
So at least we know Rogan wasn’t the source
Apple was given several opportunities to comment prior to publication and declined.
Cook has said he’s never spoken to Musk.
No, not even to discuss Apple Store plans for Mars. Which, seriously for the first time in this video, remains Musk’s primary mission and life’s work.
Never mind that he’s advocated for our reality being a simulation, likely a simulation within a simulation 666 layers or something deep, in the event of catastrophic failure of hard drive earth, Musk wants a redundant backup of data humanity on the next most capable server – Mars. And running Telsa, Space X, the Boring company, basically everything Musk runs, all focuses on bringing him, and maybe humanity, closer towards that red planet goal.
Being CEO of Apple… eh… that just seems way too doubled down on earthly. I mean, unless he knows something about that spaceship campus we don’t?
So, how did this whole, sensational, Tim Cook cussing out Elon Musk story spread so far, so fast. Beyond just a way to drama up some marketing for the book — or maybe exactly to drama up some marketing for the book?