It’s hard to imagine Elon Musk and Tesla failing. The Model S is outselling established car brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, in the poshest of cities. Despite concerns about “range anxiety” and the fact that the infrastructure for recharging electric cars isn’t as robust as gas stations, the battery powered cars keep on racking up awards and glowing reviews.
However according to a book from Ecco (an imprint of Harper Collins) that’s due on May 19, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, the car company was almost folded into Google. Tesla was struggling to have part companies take it seriously in 2012. This meant the car was missing features found on comparable luxury models from other companies and that its cars suffered from fit and finish issues.
According to the Elon Musk bio, word of mouth was suffering. Things were so bleak that the company shut its factory down. Musk redirected the efforts of all the company’s departments to call buyers and close the sales.
In a speech that’s reminiscent of Alec Baldwin’s “brass balls” speech in Glengary Glen Ross, Musk told the HR, design, engineering and finance specialists,”If we don’t deliver these cars, we are fucked. So I don’t care what job you were doing. Your new job is delivering cars.”
Executives were given the boot, younger, hungrier employees were put in their place and the company brought in a veteran from Daimler to get their repair service on track.
But just in case, Musk reached out to Google founder Larry Page and shook on a deal that ensured Tesla would continue to operate for the near future with Musk at the helm — but the company would be purchased by the search engine giant. The two shook on it.
However, financial details kept them from coming to terms. Musk’s efforts to revive the company and restructuring paid off, with more people buying the car. By 2013, things had turned around and Musk no longer needed Google’s help to keep the company afloat.