A number of news agencies reported in the past week that Tesla CEO Elon Musk was in Israel in order to discuss a possible collaboration with the artificial intelligence company Cortica. A spokesperson for Tesla has now come out and denied the truth of these reports, though — stating that while Elon Musk was indeed in Israel, he was not there in relation to Cortica. Elon Musk actually got on Twitter to note that he hadn’t even heard of Cortica before.
This is completely false. Never even heard of Cortica. Just taking my kids on a Spring Break trip to see ancient historical sites in Israel & Jordan.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 20, 2018
“The reports that Musk was in Israel to discuss a collaboration between Tesla and Cortica are completely false, he was in Israel, but not to meet or have discussions with Cortica,” the spokesperson for Tesla added.
So, if we presume that the spokesperson for Tesla and Elon Musk are telling the truth, then why would the reports in question be made? To drive up Cortica’s ability to raise funding in the future (due to perceived interest from Tesla)? To imply that Tesla’a current self-driving vehicle tech development team isn’t up to snuff? To try to cause Tesla’s stock price to dip? Just out of excitement and jumping to conclusions? Who knows?
Reuters provides more: “Tel Aviv-based Cortica says its technology enables self-driving cars to identify moving parts in its environment and make informed decisions, even predicting changes likely to occur in its surroundings.
“The Globes financial news website said the discussions with Cortica could lead to an investment or even an acquisition. Officials at Cortica could not be reached for comment. Cortica has raised nearly $70 million since it was founded in 2007. Investors include Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures and Russia’s Mail.ru Group, according to Start-Up National Central. …
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday he had met Musk and that they discussed the potential of solar energy generation in the Negev desert. Musk’s visit to Israel was highlighted by several websites, including Globes, after he posted a video of himself on Instagram at a bar in Jerusalem.”
Despite my speculations earlier in the article, I’m inclined to believe that the trip (aside from vacationing) was in relation to possible large solar energy and/or energy storage contracts in the country. Despite the fact that Tesla is still considered by many analysts to just be a car company, the reality at this point is that the firm clearly makes a lot of money selling its energy storage products to commercial- and utility-scale clients.
Watch for this aspect of Tesla’s business to expand rapidly as more Gigafactory-produced batteries get pumped out of the building over the coming years.
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