Closely watched fund manager Cathie Wood told CNBC on Wednesday that Apple could have owned the driverless vehicle market by buying Tesla when given the opportunity during the model’s difficult ramp-up. 3 from the electric vehicle manufacturer.
“We have been watching Apple very carefully for years now. Because what is an autonomous vehicle? It is the ultimate mobile device,” she said in a broad “Squawk Box” interview, during which she also spoke about her Ark Invest strategies. , the returns it expects in the long term, and by buying Zoom on its recent decline.
Apple shares hit all-time highs last Friday and then again on Monday – dropping solidly above $ 2.5 trillion in market value – following last week’s Bloomberg report on the tech giant accelerating its efforts to launch an autonomous vehicle. Apple was not immediately available to respond to CNBC’s request for comment on its stand-alone ambitions. Tesla was also not immediately available to comment on Wood’s comments.
“It’s very difficult work – and with all the leadership turnover, we’d be surprised if they manage to do it that quickly,” Wood said, referring to a Bloomberg report in June on departures from the company. standalone unit from Apple. three senior executives. In 2018, Apple lured Doug Field, then Tesla’s senior vice president of engineering, to the company where he had previously worked. Apple has hired a myriad of other former Tesla employees as well.
Wood – a longtime Tesla uber-bull and shareholder and believer in CEO Elon Musk – told CNBC: “It should have been Apple’s market. Apple should have bought Tesla, in fact when they got it. opportunity. We’re glad they didn’t. “
Musk revealed, in a tweet in December 2020, that he contacted Apple CEO Tim Cook “during the darkest days of the Model 3 program” about the possibility of selling Tesla “(for 1 / 10 of our current value). ” Musk said Cook “refused to attend the meeting.”
The first Model 3s, a cheaper electric sedan aimed at mainstream car buyers, were delivered in 2017, after increasing production to meet demand was problematic. In 2018, Musk tweeted that the auto trade was ‘hell’ and that it was sleep at the factory to try to solve the problems.
Fast forward to today, Tesla has joined the $ 1 trillion market cap club, and Musk, the largest shareholder in the EV company, has sold billions of dollars of its stock holdings.
Wood told CNBC that she saw “nothing wrong” with Musk selling stocks and making a profit and paying billions of dollars in tax bills related to stock option grants.
Regulatory documents filed Tuesday night showed Musk exercised options to buy 2.15 million Tesla shares and sold 934,091 shares worth just over $ 1 billion. Since his Twitter poll on November 6, asking if he should sell stock, Musk unloaded 9.2 million shares worth $ 9.9 billion.
– Reuters contributed to this report.