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Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The recent state of tumult for CEO Elon Musk and Tesla is spurring fresh chatter about an idea that has been rattling around for a long time.

The big question: Should Apple buy Tesla, or at least acquire a major stake? After all, combining the pioneering companies has a certain appeal, given that Apple has an auto initiative and deep pockets, and Tesla has key electric vehicle tech, vision and expertise.

What they're saying:

Loup Ventures' Gene Munster revived the idea of a major equity investment, if only to basically knock it down, in this blog post Monday. If Tesla becomes profitable, which he expects, a merger is "nothing more than a fairy tale." But, he adds:

"If we’re wrong, and Tesla fails to reach profitability in the next year, Apple gains the upper hand and becomes the most likely investor or buyer."

Fortune's Kevin Kelleher, even before Munster's post, explored the topic, noting at one point:

"Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki, an investment management that owns Tesla shares, said on CNBC that Tesla’s drop in market value could be [Apple CEO] 'Tim Cook’s gift of all gifts.'"

Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva largely agrees with Munster. She tells me:

"Apple would definitely benefit from Tesla's car expertise, which is something it seems to really need given the slow movement on its car project that's had to reconfigure more than once."
"At the same time, Apple could help Tesla as far as quality standards, production, operations, which Tesla lacks despite its great visions and similar values such as design."
"But I really don't foresee Apple going along with Tesla CEO Elon Musk's unpredictable personality and behavior without having a say over the company (or having to constantly battle with him over every decision) and Musk is never leaving Tesla (at least not on his own accord)."

Our thought bubble: It's all a long shot. But one reason it's coming up again is that Tesla's latest problems — the aborted take-private plan, Musk's erratic behavior, the stock price fall — are raising fresh doubts about the long-term viability of Tesla as a stand-alone company.

Go deeper

31 mins ago - Technology

Facebook: Metaverse won't "move fast and break things"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook on Monday said it will invest $50 million over two years in global research and program partners to ensure its metaverse products "are developed responsibly."

Why it matters: "It's almost the opposite of that now long-abandoned slogan of 'move fast and break things,'" Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg told Axios in an interview at The Atlantic Festival Monday.

Ina Fried, author of Login
40 mins ago - Technology

Facebook presses "pause" on Instagram Kids

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Facebook's announcement Monday that it was "pausing development" on Instagram Kids did little to slow a wave of criticism of the project ahead of a Senate hearing Thursday.

Yes, but: There's an argument to be made for building kids' versions of popular apps, even if their adult versions are causing real-world harms.

Ford's big plans to turbocharge the electric car industry in the U.S.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Ford Motor Company’s new $11 billion manufacturing plan, the biggest component of which will sit just outside Memphis, is part of a much bigger effort to put the U.S. at the center of the electric vehicle revolution, executive chairman Bill Ford says.

The big picture: Ford’s plans — for enormous facilities in both Tennessee and Kentucky, employing a combined 11,000 workers — are ambitious manufacturing efforts designed to minimize their environmental impact.