Apple is totally not buying Tesla — so don’t even ask

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The billionaire founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, has been aggressively poaching Apple engineers.
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, has been aggressively poaching Apple engineers.

If you’re an Apple shareholder who wants the company to buy Tesla, you are not alone. At the iPhone maker’s annual shareholder meeting in Cupertino yesterday, Tim Cook dodged not one, but two questions about whether Apple has plans to buy the electric car company.

While Apple is the ultimate example of a corporation that refuses to comment on rumors or speculation, Cook could have given a flat-out “no” and that would have been the end of it.

Instead, the Apple CEO danced around the question like he had a secret to hide.

If the rumors are to be believed, Apple is building a car. And Cupertino has been poaching Tesla employees (and vice versa).

As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

During today’s meeting, an unidentified Apple shareholder took the mic to tell Cook, “Quite frankly, I’d like to see you guys buy Tesla.”

“We don’t really have a relationship with them,” replied Cook. He then said every major car brand is committed to CarPlay and he hopes Tesla hops on the bandwagon.

“Was that a good way to avoid the question?” Cook asked the room, which immediately filled with laughter.

“We know that when you step in the car you don’t want to step in a time capsule and go back 20 years,” said Cook in reference to CarPlay, Apple’s dashboard interface for connecting your iPhone to your automobile.

Not satisfied with Cook’s answer, another bold shareholder asked if Apple and Tesla were in talks, adding that, like star-crossed lovers, there’s “something about you two companies.”

The second questioner compared buying his first Mac to driving his Tesla Model S sedan: “Am I insane to think something might happen here?”

“Let me think if there’s another way to give a non-answer,” said Cook. “We’re very focused on CarPlay.”

With $178 billion in cash, Apple could buy Tesla several times over. Cupertino could make an offer even an eccentric billionaire like Tesla founder Elon Musk couldn’t refuse. Musk met with Apple’s head of acquisitions early last year, but refused to get specific beyond the two having “conversations.”

“When you stay super-focused on achieving a compelling mass-market electric car, I’d be very concerned in any acquisition scenario, whoever it is, that we may become distracted from that task, which has always been the driving goal of Tesla,” Musk told Bloomberg.

Apple is clearly not buying Tesla tomorrow, but given that it has no problem shooting down acquisition rumors when it sees fit, the way Cook dodges the question is a tad suspicious.