Recently there are news stories out there, that Apple "tried" to buy Tesla back in 2013, and that had they done so, the first order of business would have been to dispense with Elon Musk. The deal of course did not happen, in part because Musk made it clear he had no interest in stepping away from Tesla. Fair enough.
Today, with Tesla in turmoil, its' stock hitting new 52-week lows by the day, rumors are swirling again that Apple might buy out Tesla (both being publicly traded companies, there would be a negotiation and a per-share price). I think that's potentially very interesting; Apple would have a proven platform and channel to sell cars (which they have supposedly wanted to do) and the tech investments of both companies could combine for some powerful results. Should this transpire however, I certainly hope they keep Elon Musk on.
Musk is the secret sauce behind Tesla. Without Musk Apple has purchased little more than a brand and some plans and factories. Moreover, Musk's brand of crazy visionary leadership has been sorely lacking at Apple since the demise of Steve Jobs; Tim Cook has done a fine job of steering the ship and beating up the suppliers, but Apple has become a sprawling behemoth, and lacks the inspired vision that got it to where it is. I sense that there is infighting in the inner circles; the Jony Ives of the company have taken us into territory where industrial design and pretty software eclipse functionality and reliability, and the product line suffers for it; anyone else remember Gil Amelio's Apple? Meanwhile, competing products mimic Apples' look and feel with impunity, often quite effectively.
Were Apple to start making some really "think different" moves in the marketplace, the future could be much more interesting. Musk, more than most other corporate leaders in any industry in the U.S. today, has demonstrated just that in his manifesting not only a robust line of Tesla cars, but notable advances in space travel with SpaceX and, of all unlikely things, tunneling, with the amusingly named Boring company.
In my humble opinion, Apple should bid for Tesla, and invite Elon to the senior leadership table. Give him the resources to take Tesla to its' full potential. Perhaps persuade him to name replacements at SpaceX and Boring, so that he can focus his energy on Tesla and its' integration with Apple's tech; there are many areas of symbiosis to explore. Elon might even have a trick or two that Apple can benefit from. This would be bold leadership for Apple.
Full disclosure, I own minute amount of stock in both companies. Both ticker symbols are down over 10% on the week as I write this post.