Tesla CEO Elon Musk not only asked Apple CEO Tim Cook to buy his company in 2016, he also demanded he become the new chief executive of Apple if the deal were to go through, according to a book excerpt released on Friday.
Cook’s response? “F— you,” before immediately hanging up. That’s according to a passage in “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century” from Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins, which was shared in a Los Angeles Times book review. It’s a juicy story, but both Musk and Apple on Friday denied the exchange ever took place.
“Cook [and] I have never spoken or written to each other ever,” Musk tweeted. “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.”
Musk continued: “[Cook] refused to meet. Tesla was worth about 6% of today’s value.”
Apple, in response to a request from The Verge, also denied the conversation happened. The tech giant pointed to Cook’s comments in an interview with Kara Swisher where he said “You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he’s built.”
Musk also said Higgins “managed to make his book both false *and* boring.”
Higgins, in response to Musk’s tweet on Friday, said the Tesla chief was “given plenty of opportunities to comment on this. He didn’t.” The ill-fated phone call story, Higgins said, “comes from Musk’s own account of the conversation, according to people who heard the retelling at the time.”
According to Higgins’ book, Musk reached out to Cook in 2016. At the time, Tesla was struggling financially and dealing with production issues. Musk, according to the book, asked Cook to have Apple buy Tesla, but on one condition: “I’m the CEO,” Musk said, according to Higgins’ book. Cook agreed, assuming Musk meant he would remain in charge of Tesla. When Cook realized Musk was asking to take his job instead, he hit him with the “f— you” response and called it a day.
After tweeting the story was nonsense on Friday, Musk then criticized Apple, tweeting the company’s App Store fees “are a de facto global tax on the Internet. Epic is right.” Musk was referring to Epic Games, which is currently in a legal battle with Apple over its practice of collecting up to 30% of sales from apps using its App Store. You can read more about the Epic v. Apple fight by clicking here.