Tesla Motors 

“Market Cap $26.73 B As of May 2014

At a Glance

  • Country: United States
  • CEO: Elon Musk
  • Employees: 5,859
  • Sales: $2.01 B
  • Headquarters: Palo Alto, California

Forbes Lists

#1658 Global 2000

  • #415 in Market value

Tesla Motors, Inc. designs, develops, manufactures and sells fully electric vehicles and advanced electric vehicle powertrain components. It provides services for the development of electric powertrain components and engages in the sale of electric powertrain components to other automotive manufacturers. Tesla Motors has manufactured its first electric vehicle, Tesla Roadster in 2008. The company was founded by Jeffrey B. Straubel, Elon R. Musk and Marc Tarpenning on July 1, 2003 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA.

“Tesla Motors History

Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who financed the company until the Series A round of funding. Both men played active roles in the company’s early development prior to Elon Musk’s involvement. Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla’s Board of Directors as its Chairman. Tesla’s primary goal was to commercialize electric vehicles, starting with a premium sports car aimed at early adopters and then moving as rapidly as possible into more mainstream vehicles, including sedans and affordable compacts.

Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in day-to-day business operations; Eberhard acknowledged that Musk was the person who insisted from the beginning on a carbon fiber body and he led design of components ranging from the power electronics module to the headlamps and other styling. In addition to his daily operational roles, Musk was the controlling investor in Tesla from the first financing round, funding the large majority of the Series A capital investment round of US$7.5 million with personal funds. From the beginning, Musk consistently maintained that Tesla’s long-term strategic goal was to create affordable mass market electric vehicles. Musk received the Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev, and he received the 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.

Musk’s Series A round included Compass Technology Partners and SDL Ventures, as well as many private investors. Musk later led Tesla Motors’ Series B, US$13 million, investment round that added Valor Equity Partners to the funding team. Musk co-led the third,US$40 million round in May 2006 along with Technology Partners. Tesla’s third round included investment from prominent entrepreneurs including Google co-founders Sergey Brin & Larry Page, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Hyatt heir Nick Pritzker and added the VC firmsDraper Fisher Jurvetson, Capricorn Management and The Bay Area Equity Fund managed by JPMorgan Chase. The fourth round in May 2007 added another US$45 million and brought the total investments to over US$105 million through private financing.

In December 2007, Ze’ev Drori became CEO and President. In January 2008, Tesla fired several key personnel who had been involved from the inception after a performance review by the new CEO. According to Musk, Tesla was forced to reduce the company workforce by about 10% to lower its burn rate, which was out of control in 2007. The fifth round in February 2008 added another US$40 million. Musk had contributed US$70 million of his own money to the company by this time. In October 2008, Musk succeeded Drori as CEO. Drori became Vice Chairman, but then left the company in December. By January 2009, Tesla had raised US$187 million and delivered 147 cars. On May 19, 2009, Germany’s Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz, acquired an equity stake of less than 10% of Tesla for a reported US$50 million. In July 2009, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments bought 40% of Daimler’s interest in Tesla.

In June 2009 Tesla was approved to receive US$465 million in interest-bearing loans from the United States Department of Energy. The funding, part of the US$8 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, supports engineering and production of the Model S sedan, as well as the development of commercial powertrain technology. The low-interest loans are not related to the “bailout” funds that GM and Chrysler received, nor are they related to the 2009 economic stimulus package. The loan program was created in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration. Tesla repaid the loan in May 2013. Tesla was the first car company to have fully repaid the government, while Ford, Nissan and Fisker had not.

The company announced in early August 2009 that it had achieved overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009. The company said it earned approximately US$1 million on revenue of US$20 million. Profitability arose primarily from improved gross margin on the 2010 Roadster, the second iteration of Tesla’s award-winning sports car. Tesla, which like all automakers records revenue when products are delivered, shipped a record 109 vehicles in July and reported a surge in new Roadster purchases. In September 2009, Tesla announced an US$82.5 million round to accelerate Tesla’s retail expansion. Daimler participated in the round to maintain equity ownership from its initial investment.

Tesla Motors signed a production contract on July 11, 2005 with Group Lotus to produce “gliders” (complete cars minus powertrain).The contract ran through March 2011, but the two automakers extended the deal to keep the electric Roadster in production through December 2011 with a minimum number of 2,400 units, when production ended, mostly because of tooling changes orchestrated by one of its suppliers. In June 2010, it was reported that Tesla sold a total of US$12.2 million zero emission vehicle credits to other automakers, including Honda, up to March 31, 2010.

2010 initial public offering

On January 29, 2010, Tesla Motors filed Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as a preliminary prospectus indicating its intention to file an initial public offering (IPO) underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J. P. Morgan, and Deutsche Bank Securities. On May 21, 2010, Tesla announced a “strategic partnership” with Toyota, which agreed to purchase US$50 million in Tesla common stock issued in a private placement to close immediately after the IPO. Executives at both companies said that they would cooperate on “the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.” Less than two months later, Toyota and Tesla confirmed that their first platform collaboration would be to build an electric version of the RAV4 EV.

On June 29, 2010 Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering on NASDAQ. The IPO raised US$226 million for the company.It was the first American car maker to go public since the Ford Motor Company had its IPO in 1956. During November 2013, Tesla’s stock fell more than 20 percent, following news of a third Model S fire. Despite the drop, Tesla was still the top performer on the Nasdaq 100 index in 2013. Tesla is seeking to sell 40,000 electric vehicles worldwide in 2014, adding China to its export plans.

Since IPO

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in a press release and conference call on June 12, 2014, that the company will allow its technology patents for use by anyone in good faith.This move was praised by some in the business press, for exhibiting “long-term thinking”.”

*Information from Teslamotors.com and Wikipedia.org

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