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Tesla’s Musk denies demanding to be Apple CEO, calls App Store fee ‘global tax on the internet’

·Technology Editor
·3 min read
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Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk denied reports Friday that he demanded to be Apple (AAPL) CEO during a 2016 phone call in which Apple’s Tim Cook discussed buying the electric vehicle maker. Musk also took a separate swipe at Apple’s App Store fee on Friday, tweeting that it’s a “global tax on the internet.”

The tweets from Musk were apparently prompted by a new book from The Wall Street Journal’s Tim Higgins, called “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century.” That book reported that Cook balked at the idea of Musk being CEO reportedly and said “F*** you” before hanging up on him, according to a Los Angeles Times review.

“Cook & I have never spoken or written to each other ever,” Musk tweeted Friday.

“There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla. There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet. Tesla was worth about 6% of today’s value,” Musk added.

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Yahoo Finance has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story with any response we receive.

Last year, Musk claimed in a series of tweets that he attempted to meet with Cook to see if the iPhone maker would purchase Tesla. In his tweets, Musk said the company was going through its “darkest days” of its Model 3 buildout at the time, but said Cook refused the meeting.

Apple is reportedly working on its own electric self-driving vehicle.

SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk visits the construction site of Tesla's gigafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk visits the construction site of Tesla's gigafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

Musk didn’t just seek to dispel the reports of his demands to take over Apple, on Friday. He also took a swipe at Apple for its App Store pricing policy.

In a separate tweet, the mercurial CEO said “Apple app store [sic] fees are a de facto global tax on the Internet. Epic is right.”

Apple’s App Store fees require that developers that make more than $1 million a year through the sale of apps or in-app purchases pay 30% of each sale to Apple. Those that make less than $1 million a year pay 15%.

The fees are the source of multiple antitrust probes into Apple’s business practices, as well as an antitrust lawsuit filed by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games. A judge is expected to rule on the Epic case this summer.

The Department of Justice and a coalition of state attorneys general are reportedly looking into the App Store fees, and the European Union’s antitrust watchdog has also accused the iPhone maker of antitrust violations.

Apple argues that the fees are important, because they fund the development of software components that app developers use to ensure their applications work on Apple devices. Companies ranging from Microsoft to Spotify have come out against the fees, as well as Apple’s resistance to opening up its iOS platform to third-party app stores.

Musk’s App Store tweet was the second time he referenced Apple’s platform in recent days. During Tesla’s earnings call on Monday, the CEO made a reference to Apple in discussing making electric vehicle chargers available to other companies.

“I think we do want to emphasize that our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy,” he said. “It is not to create a walled garden, and use that to bludgeon our competitors, which is sometimes used by some companies.”

Musk followed the comment up with a cough and said, “Apple.”

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