Elon Musk demanded to be made Apple CEO, Tim Cook said "F*** you", claims new book

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A new report claims that when Apple thought about buying Tesla in 2016, Elon Musk demanded to be made CEO.
  • That's according to a new book titled 'Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century.'
  • Apparently, Tim Cook just said "F*** you" and hung up the phone.

An outrageous new book from WSJ's Tim Higgins reportedly claims that Elon Musk demanded to be made Apple CEO when the company nearly bought Tesla in 2016.

A review of 'Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century' by Tim Higgins from the LA Times states:

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk are talking on the phone. The 2016 unveiling of the make-it-or-break-it Model 3 is coming soon, but Tesla is in serious financial trouble. Cook has an idea: Apple buys Tesla.Musk is interested, but one condition: "I'm CEO."Sure, says Cook. When Apple bought Beats in 2014, it kept on the founders, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.No, Musk says. Apple. Apple CEO."F— you" Cook says, and hangs up.

Apparently, Cook thought that Musk meant he wanted to remain CEO of Tesla when he was in fact making at play at Cook's own seat at Apple. Bear in mind that Elon Musk has stated that "most, but not all" of what is written in Higgin's book is "nonsense." The LA Times says that this is the "juiciest allegation" in the book, and is apparently a secondhand anecdote.

We do however know that a potential acquisition of Tesla was discussed by Apple, at least according to Musk himself...

Back in December of 2020 Elon Musk claimed that he tried to sell Tesla to Apple during "the darkest days of the Model 3 program". From our previous report:

We always ponder the "what if" scenarios and one of the biggest questions that have found its way into almost everyone in the tech community's brain is, "What if Apple bought Tesla?" Well, it appears that Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, had the same idea at one point.In a tweet, Musk says that when Tesla was working on the Model 3, he reached out to Apple to talk about a potential acquisition of the company. According to Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to take the meeting.

Apparently, the deal would mean Apple buying Tesla at one-tenth of its current value, about $60bn according to Mark Gurman:

Gurman also notes that Tim Cook has previously stated that he has never spoken to Elon Musk, and Musk himself has now denied the story:

Whilst it's difficult to know whether such a story is at all factual, it is hard to imagine the soflty spoken Cook dropping an F-bomb down the phone to a fellow CEO, but who knows?

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9