CNBC reported on Wednesday that closely watched money manager Cathie Wood stated that Apple could have owned the driverless vehicle market if it had purchased Tesla when the opportunity presented itself during the electric vehicle maker's troubled Model 3 ramp-up.
"We've been keeping a close eye on Apple for quite some time now. Because, after all, what exactly is an autonomous vehicle? Her extensive "Squawk Box" interview included discussions of her Ark Invest strategies, the returns she expects long-term, and her decision to purchase Zoom at a low point in the company's stock price recently.
Following a Bloomberg report last week that the tech giant is accelerating efforts to launch a self-driving vehicle, Apple shares hit all-time highs last Friday and then again Monday, putting the company's market capitalization solidly above $2.5 trillion for the first time. In response to a request for comment from CNBC regarding Apple's autonomous ambitions, the company did not immediately respond. Tesla was also unavailable for comment on Wood's remarks at the time of publication.
"This is extremely difficult work — and given the high level of management turnover, we'd be surprised if they were able to complete it in such a short period of time," Wood said, referring to a June Bloomberg report about the departures from Apple's autonomous unit of three top executives. In 2018, Apple enticed Doug Field, who was then Tesla's senior vice president of engineering, to return to the company where he had worked previously. Apple also hired a slew of other former Tesla employees, according to reports.
Mr. Wood, a longtime Tesla uber-bull and shareholder who believes in the company's CEO Elon Musk, told CNBC that the company "should have been in the Apple market." In fact, Apple should have purchased Tesla years ago, when the opportunity presented itself. "We're relieved that they didn't."
A tweet from Elon Musk, sent out in December 2020, revealed that Musk had reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook "during the darkest days for the Model 3 program" to discuss the possibility of selling Tesla "(for one-tenth of our current value)."
Cook, according to Musk, "refused to attend the meeting."
Following difficulties in increasing production to meet demand, Tesla began shipping the first Model 3 sedans in 2017. The Model 3 is a less expensive electric sedan targeted at mass-market car buyers. The car business was "hell" in 2018, according to Musk, who tweeted that he was sleeping at the factory in an attempt to solve the issues.
Forward to today, when Tesla has joined the exclusive club of companies with market capitalizations exceeding $1 trillion, and Musk, the company's largest shareholder, has been aggressively liquidating billions of dollars in his equity stake.
Cathy Wood, a CNBC contributor, stated that she sees "nothing wrong" with Musk selling stock and taking profits, as well as paying billions of dollars in taxes related to stock option grants.
Musk purchased 2.15 million shares of Tesla stock and sold 934,091 shares of the company, according to regulatory filings made late Tuesday. The transactions were worth just over $1 billion, according to Musk. Musk has sold 9.2 million shares worth $9.9 billion in stock since taking a poll on Twitter on Nov. 6, asking whether he should sell stock.