And the whole world is in awe

***UPDATE -  Shortly After 2 PM Eastern - Trading of TSLA stock has now been halted

***UPDATE - 3:30 PM Eastern - Email from Elon Musk to Tesla employees added at bottom of post.

***UPDATE - Trading resumed around 3:40 PM EST. At the time of this writing - 4:10 PM EST - shares were up 11 percent (37.58), at 379.57.

***UPDATE 8/14/2018 - Tesla has announced the formation of a special committee to evaluate going private. Announcement directly below in its entirety:

Tesla Motors
Aug 14,2018
Tesla Announces Formation of Special Committee to Evaluate Potential Going Private Transaction

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 14, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tesla, Inc. (the “Company”) announced today that its Board of Directors has formed a special committee comprised of three independent directors to act on behalf of the Company in connection with Elon Musk’s previously announced consideration of a transaction to take the Company private (the “Going Private Transaction”). The special committee has not yet received a formal proposal from Mr. Musk regarding any Going Private Transaction nor has it reached any conclusion as to the advisability or feasibility of such a transaction.

The special committee is composed of Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm and Linda Johnson Rice. The special committee has retained Latham & Watkins LLP as its legal counsel and intends to retain an independent financial advisor to assist in its review of a formal proposal once received. The Company has separately retained Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as its legal counsel in this matter.

The special committee has the full power and authority of the Board of Directors to take any and all actions on behalf of the Board of Directors as it deems necessary to evaluate and negotiate a potential Going Private Transaction and alternatives to any transaction proposed by Mr. Musk. The special committee’s grant of authority provides that no Going Private Transaction will be consummated without the approval of the special committee. The special committee expects to provide a further update concerning the process associated with Mr. Musk’s proposal as soon as practicable.

No assurances can be given regarding the likelihood, terms and details of any proposal or potential Going Private Transaction, that any proposal made by Mr. Musk regarding a potential Going Private Transaction will be accepted by the special committee, that definitive documentation relating to any such Going Private Transaction will be executed or that such a transaction will be completed.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain statements in this announcement, including statements regarding a potential Going Private Transaction, are “forward-looking statements” that are subject to risks, uncertainties and contingencies. These risks, uncertainties and contingencies include, but are not limited to, the impact of the announcement of the formation of the special committee and review of a potential Going Private Transaction on the Company’s business and its ability to implement any potential Going Private Transaction.  Various important factors could cause actual results to differ materially, including the risks identified in our SEC filings.

This list of factors is not intended to be exhaustive. Such forward-looking statements only speak as of the date of this announcement, and the Company disclaims any obligation to update information contained in these forward-looking statements.

***UPDATE 8/13/2018 (10:00 AM EST) - Tesla CEO Elon Musk has released a lengthy update letter with details about taking Tesla private. The full text is included below:

Update on Taking Tesla Private

Elon Musk  - August 13, 2018

As I announced last Tuesday, I’m considering taking Tesla private because I believe it could be good for our shareholders, enable Tesla to operate at its best, and advance our mission of accelerating the transition to sustainable energy. As I continue to consider this, I want to answer some of the questions that have been asked since last Tuesday.

What has happened so far?

On August 2nd, I notified the Tesla board that, in my personal capacity, I wanted to take Tesla private at $420 per share. This was a 20% premium over the ~$350 then current share price (which already reflected a ~16% increase in the price since just prior to announcing Q2 earnings on August 1st). My proposal was based on using a structure where any existing shareholder who wished to remain as a shareholder in a private Tesla could do so, with the $420 per share buyout used only for shareholders that preferred that option.

After an initial meeting of the board’s outside directors to discuss my proposal (I did not participate, nor did Kimbal), a full board meeting was held. During that meeting, I told the board about the funding discussions that had taken place (more on that below) and I explained why this could be in Tesla’s long-term interest.

At the end of that meeting, it was agreed that as a next step, I would reach out to some of Tesla’s largest shareholders. Our largest investors have been extremely supportive of Tesla over the years, and understanding whether they had the ability and desire to remain as shareholders in a private Tesla is of critical importance to me. They are the ones who believed in Tesla when no one else did and they are the ones who most believe in our future. I told the board that I would report back after I had these discussions.

Why did I make a public announcement?

The only way I could have meaningful discussions with our largest shareholders was to be completely forthcoming with them about my desire to take the company private. However, it wouldn’t be right to share information about going private with just our largest investors without sharing the same information with all investors at the same time. As a result, it was clear to me that the right thing to do was announce my intentions publicly. To be clear, when I made the public announcement, just as with this blog post and all other discussions I have had on this topic, I am speaking for myself as a potential bidder for Tesla.

Why did I say “funding secured”?

Going back almost two years, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund has approached me multiple times about taking Tesla private. They first met with me at the beginning of 2017 to express this interest because of the important need to diversify away from oil. They then held several additional meetings with me over the next year to reiterate this interest and to try to move forward with a going private transaction. Obviously, the Saudi sovereign fund has more than enough capital needed to execute on such a transaction.

Recently, after the Saudi fund bought almost 5% of Tesla stock through the public markets, they reached out to ask for another meeting. That meeting took place on July 31st. During the meeting, the Managing Director of the fund expressed regret that I had not moved forward previously on a going private transaction with them, and he strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla at this time. I understood from him that no other decision makers were needed and that they were eager to proceed.

I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving. This is why I referred to “funding secured” in the August 7th announcement.

Following the August 7th announcement, I have continued to communicate with the Managing Director of the Saudi fund. He has expressed support for proceeding subject to financial and other due diligence and their internal review process for obtaining approvals. He has also asked for additional details on how the company would be taken private, including any required percentages and any regulatory requirements.

Another critical point to emphasize is that before anyone is asked to decide on going private, full details of the plan will be provided, including the proposed nature and source of the funding to be used. However, it would be premature to do so now. I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base. It is appropriate to complete those discussions before presenting a detailed proposal to an independent board committee.

It is also worth clarifying that most of the capital required for going private would be funded by equity rather than debt, meaning that this would not be like a standard leveraged buyout structure commonly used when companies are taken private. I do not think it would be wise to burden Tesla with significantly increased debt.

Therefore, reports that more than $70B would be needed to take Tesla private dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed. The $420 buyout price would only be used for Tesla shareholders who do not remain with our company if it is private. My best estimate right now is that approximately two-thirds of shares owned by all current investors would roll over into a private Tesla.

What are the next steps?

As mentioned earlier, I made the announcement last Tuesday because I felt it was the right and fair thing to do so that all investors had the same information at the same time. I will now continue to talk with investors, and I have engaged advisors to investigate a range of potential structures and options. Among other things, this will allow me to obtain a more precise understanding of how many of Tesla’s existing public shareholders would remain shareholders if we became private.

If and when a final proposal is presented, an appropriate evaluation process will be undertaken by a special committee of Tesla’s board, which I understand is already in the process of being set up, together with the legal counsel it has selected. If the board process results in an approved plan, any required regulatory approvals will need to be obtained and the plan will be presented to Tesla shareholders for a vote.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent shockwaves through the financial and automotive worlds today, announcing on Twitter that he is considering taking the California automaker private at $420 a share (is that just a number, or is it connected to something of a "higher" order). The company first went public in June of 2010, offering 13.3 million shares for $17 per share. My, how times have changed.

He says he's only considering, but it's fair to say that he is likely "strongly considering," especially as he's saying the funding has already been secured. With 169.79 million shares outstanding, $420 per share would put the company's value at $71.31 billion. Not, obviously, a small number.

As one might expect, Tesla stock reacted swiftly and strongly, leaping over 5 percent almost immediately. It continues to climb and is at $363.18 (up $21.19) as of this writing. We can only imagine this is a bad time to be short on the stock — "short" meaning you've made a bet that the stock price would go down.

With the world frantically trying to figure out what the move could mean for the company, or for them, Musk followed that Tweet up with a jolly "good morning," likely tied to the stock rise:

A new Tweet possibly confirming the authenticity of the first Musk Tweets has just surfaced:

Musk has now just tweeted again some clarification of how this could go down.

Developing story...

Email from Elon below:

Taking Tesla Private

August 7, 2018 The following email was sent to Tesla employees today:

Earlier today, I announced that I’m considering taking Tesla private at a price of $420/share. I wanted to let you know my rationale for this, and why I think this is the best path forward.

First, a final decision has not yet been made, but the reason for doing this is all about creating the environment for Tesla to operate best. As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market, being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company.

I fundamentally believe that we are at our best when everyone is focused on executing, when we can remain focused on our long-term mission, and when there are not perverse incentives for people to try to harm what we’re all trying to achieve.

This is especially true for a company like Tesla that has a long-term, forward-looking mission. SpaceX is a perfect example: it is far more operationally efficient, and that is largely due to the fact that it is privately held. This is not to say that it will make sense for Tesla to be private over the long-term. In the future, once Tesla enters a phase of slower, more predictable growth, it will likely make sense to return to the public markets.

Here’s what I envision being private would mean for all shareholders, including all of our employees.

First, I would like to structure this so that all shareholders have a choice. Either they can stay investors in a private Tesla or they can be bought out at $420 per share, which is a 20% premium over the stock price following our Q2 earnings call (which had already increased by 16%). My hope is for all shareholders to remain, but if they prefer to be bought out, then this would enable that to happen at a nice premium.

Second, my intention is for all Tesla employees to remain shareholders of the company, just as is the case at SpaceX. If we were to go private, employees would still be able to periodically sell their shares and exercise their options. This would enable you to still share in the growing value of the company that you have all worked so hard to build over time.

Third, the intention is not to merge SpaceX and Tesla. They would continue to have separate ownership and governance structures. However, the structure envisioned for Tesla is similar in many ways to the SpaceX structure: external shareholders and employee shareholders have an opportunity to sell or buy approximately every six months.

Finally, this has nothing to do with accumulating control for myself. I own about 20% of the company now, and I don’t envision that being substantially different after any deal is completed.

Basically, I’m trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible.

This proposal to go private would ultimately be finalized through a vote of our shareholders. If the process ends the way I expect it will, a private Tesla would ultimately be an enormous opportunity for all of us. Either way, the future is very bright and we’ll keep fighting to achieve our mission.

Thanks,

Elon