Elon Musk says it’s ‘impossible’ to take Tesla private now

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Mr. Elon Musk

Billionaire Elon Musk said that even though he would like to invest more time on innovation, it’s “impossible” to take the US-based electric carmaker Tesla private now.

“Tesla public company duties are a much bigger factor, but going private is impossible now,” Mr. Musk said in response to a tweet saying he should optimize his time in areas such as innovation. “Engineering, design & general company operations absorb the vast majority of my mind & are the fundamental limitation on doing more.”

Tesla shares, which were included in the S&P 500 index this week, have surged eightfold this year ahead of the addition to the benchmark measure. The gain is twice the advance of the next best performer on the gauge. The share price jump also created millionaires among its investors, and propelled Mr. Musk’s net worth by $132.2 billion to $159.7 billion, making him the world’s second richest person.

Mr. Musk also said Starlink, SpaceX’s budding space-internet business, would likely be a candidate in his group to go public once its revenue growth becomes “reasonably predictable,” echoing similar comments by the company’s president to investors earlier this year.

At a private investor event in February, President Gwynne Shotwell said that Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has already launched more than 240 satellites to develop Starlink.

A listing would give investors a chance to buy into one of the most promising operations within the closely held company. “Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” she said then.

To this point, investors had limited ways of owning a piece of SpaceX, which, by dominating the commercial rocket industry, has become one of the most valued venture-backed companies in the US.

In addition to a contract from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for a version of its next-generation Starship spacecraft that can land astronauts on the moon in 2024, SpaceX also has an agreement with a Japanese entrepreneur for a private flight around the moon in 2023. And it will be ready to launch its first Starship flight to Mars in 2026, Mr. Musk said earlier this month.