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A new book about Tesla is already causing drama

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Ah, who doesn’t love some drama between two rich adult men.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Times published a review of Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins’ new book about Tesla, Power Play. The review stresses that the book is about “the many employees not named Elon Musk who made essential contributions to whatever success the carmaker enjoys today,” with Musk serving “not as main character but dramatic foil to those doing their best under chaotic, dysfunctional conditions,” Spicy!

But, of course, the part of the book the review discusses that is making the most waves is directly about Musk.

Specifically, the review recounts an anecdote in the book about an alleged call between Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook. According to the book, the two CEOs spoke about Apple potentially acquiring Tesla when the electric automaker was having financial problems in 2016. Musk was into the idea, under the condition that he become the CEO. Not “stay” the CEO of Tesla — but become the CEO of Apple.

What was Cook’s response to Musk’s proposition that he take over Cook’s job? To say “Fuck you,” and hang up the phone, according to the review’s account of the book.

Obviously this is hilarious and a beautiful exchange to contemplate. But both parties are denying that this happened.

Which, in turn, is leading to typical Elon Musk Twitter drama.

Reporter Mark Gurman originally published a story in Bloomberg in 2020 about how Tesla and Musk did broach a potential acquisition of Tesla by Apple in 2016. According to Musk and the report, Apple wouldn’t take the meeting.

Gurman points out that Cook told Kara Swisher a similar version of events to Musk’s, but a less acrimonious one. In the interview transcript, Cook says he has “never actually spoken to” Musk, and then goes on to compliment him. Which is basically the CEO version of “I don’t know her.”

Cook’s assertion that they’ve never spoken is a bit hard to believe, considering that the two CEOs sat one seat apart at the infamous tech CEO summit held in 2017 by Trump. But a generous reading of the statement is that “never spoken” refers to a meaningful conversation about Tesla vis-à-vis
an Apple acquisition. Hrmm.

Also, Cook has not actually weighed in himself, and Apple did not return Mashable’s request for comment before the time of this article’s publication.

Musk, however, couldn’t let the situation naturally diffuse without having the last word.

Musk takes Gurman’s Twitter thread as an opportunity to bash the book as “false *and* boring” and talk up Tesla’s growth.

Also, just a few moments later he goes on to criticize Apple for…its App Store fees?!

As Fortnite maker Epic Games and anti-trust investigators have argued, Musk’s got a point. But with respect to the Tesla/Apple dramz, hello, left field, nice to be in you!

The LA Times review does not give details about the source of the anecdote. Musk did reportedly refuse to participate in the book. Per the LA Times: “In an author’s note at the end, Higgins writes that Musk ‘was given numerous opportunities to comment on the stories, facts, and characterizations presented in these pages. Without pointing to any specific inaccuracies, he offered simply this: ‘Most, but not all, of what you read in this book is nonsense.””

So we’ve got the book giving one version of events, Cook giving his non-version, and Musk’s Twitter account, all of a conversation that may or may not have happened. And now, there’s a new canon of Twitter drama about it all. And scene.

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