Is Elon Musk aiming to take over Tesla?

Owen Thomas · 11/07/08 04:20PM

Tesla Motors, Silicon Valley's troubled electric carmaker, is still running on financial fumes, with $9 million or less in the bank. It's been widely misreported that the company has already raised $40 million. In fact, that's the amount it's hoping to raise, in the form of convertible debt, from current investors in a rights offering, which will take 30 days to complete. Musk made a fortune from PayPal, the online payments startup purchased by eBay, and other startups. He says he has enough money to take the entire round if other investors don't step up. And that may be exactly what he's hoping will happen.In a bankruptcy, holders of Tesla's debt will have priority over all holders of common and preferred stock in the company — including the Valley celebrities like Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll who have invested in Tesla. Raising this round of debt, followed by a bankruptcy filing, could be Musk's way of squeezing out other shareholders — especially cofounders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Employee with unexercised stock options will get wiped out in such a scenario. Current shareholders will have a right to invest in this debt round according to their current share — but Musk may well be counting on the short 30-day offering period and tight financial markets to shut out anyone who doesn't have the cash handy. Why do I think this is a likely scenario? Because Musk has done something similar before. When Musk briefly served as PayPal's CEO, he'd run the company's bank account to six weeks' worth of cash. PayPal insiders say Musk was pulling "financial machinations" to maintain his control of the company — but the board fired him instead and replaced him with cofounder Peter Thiel, who steered the company to its $1.5 billion purchase by eBay. Unfortunately for Tesla, there's no obvious white knight like Thiel on the horizon.

Zuckerberg follows Jobs, Page, Skoll to ashram

Jackson West · 05/22/08 07:00PM

In the latest installment of "Where in the World is Mark Zuckerberg," one stop on his tour to the subcontinent was to the favored ashram of Larry Brilliant, director of Google's entrepreneurial philanthropy project, This would presumably be the one run by Neem Karoli Baba which Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs has also visited. Brilliant has said he also brought Google cofounder Larry Page and eBay cofounder Jeff Skoll there.

T is for Twitter, which turned blogging small

Owen Thomas · 05/15/08 09:20AM

Twitter, the 140-characters at a time blogging service, was shaped by its founder's dry, understated sense of humor. The company, not to mention the service, seems to be a sort of Silicon Valley inside joke that, improbably, Ev Williams and his fellow Twitterers have managed to play on the rest of the world. For this, Sarah Lacy labels Williams a "nontrepreneur." Fittingly, Sarah Lacy gave his microcompany got a mere four pages in her new book, Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good:

Sarah Gore and Bill Lee

Megan McCarthy · 07/23/07 02:50PM

Former Vice President Al Gore has solidified his status as a "Valley Guy" by marrying off his daughter to a Sand Hill-financed entrepreneur. Gore's youngest daughter Sarah, a medical student at UCSF, was married July 14th to Bill Lee, founder of Benchmark-backed RemarQ, a messageboard company sold to Critical Path in 2000. The two met at an event for her father's film An Inconvenient Truth, hosted by former eBay president Jeff Skoll, an executive producer of the film. Skoll, eBay's second full-time employee, also served as best man at the nuptials. It's been reported that Donald Trump and Bill and Hillary Clinton were present, but we haven't spied any notable Valley names on the guest list, yet. Know of any? Fill us in.