Who is running Cobalt?
In April, Elon Musk surprised everyone when he took Tesla off the auction block. The company’s board reportedly explored multiple options for Tesla’s electric-car subsidiary, including selling it, entering into a partnership with an outside buyer, or continuing on as is and eventually de-listing it. And that’s before Tesla had settled into the massive real-estate buying binge that has taken the company from a $1.8 billion IPO in 2014 to a $50 billion market cap and a Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters valued at $2.9 billion, according to real-estate experts.
While we’re on the subject of going public, Tesla has so far been the only company Tesla Motors Inc. has gone public with. But that’s just one part of a three-pronged strategy Musk plans to use to take Tesla private.
Jon Sullivan — an investor, who Forbes called “arguably Elon Musk’s closest confidant” — is also involved. Sullivan helped Musk design the Tesla Roadster, served as an adviser to Musk on his electric-car startup, ZEV, and is currently chief product officer of Boring Co., a company that Musk founded to tunnel underground to provide short-distance alternatives to the San Francisco Bay Area’s notorious roads.
One investor, Mike Tannebaum, managed to purchase Tesla in 2013 from founder Martin Eberhard’s ex-wife. Tannebaum’s personal wealth is estimated to be around $100 million, according to Forbes, and he’s an avid driver of race cars, including racecars of the former Tesla team that now competes in the America’s Cup. Tannebaum has contributed more than $160,000 to members of Congress.
Who owns the other big asset Musk is trying to sell?
Billionaire Vinod Khosla, a California-based investor and entrepreneur, is an early investor in Tesla, having purchased SpaceX stock and a Tesla share in a January 2014 investment, according to Khosla’s investing website, CompaniesOne. It’s unclear when Khosla purchased the stake in Tesla Motors Inc. It’s also unclear which shares Khosla has sold. He has been named as a shareholder in 34% of Tesla’s outstanding shares, according to an investor filing.
Khosla also has a stake in Hardinge, a 3-D printers company valued at around $850 million, according to other document filings.
Khosla Partners has raked in a total of more than $10 billion in capital, according to its website. Founded in 2005, the venture capital firm is known for helping to drive the electric-car industry with vehicles like the Model S and Model X. Khosla served as the chief executive of Sun Microsystems before selling the company to Oracle for more than $7 billion in 2005.
Is the price high enough to attract interested buyers?
Tesla’s stock has been trading on a historic sell-off pace. Since June, the stock has lost about a third of its value.
Tesla has been closing on its most-ever days of trading volume — which includes futures contracts in the stock that trade on the CME Group’s bitcoin platform. The price of a Tesla share on a close basis has dropped more than $50 in July, to a 30-month low.
The sell-off has been driven by a variety of factors, including Tesla’s manufacturing issues, the company’s rising costs, and investor backlash over Musk’s plan to launch a new rocket company. Another problem is that investors are also worried that Musk’s bold idea may not be profitable, despite the company’s expectations that it will be.
Those doubts have taken a toll on Tesla’s share price. The company, whose market cap is a fifth that of automaker General Motors, trades just above book value, which some experts feel is too low.