At a recent shareholder conference, amid news of Tesla's newest exploits and financial ups and downs, CEO Elon Musk had a bit of an embarrassing story to tell. Back in the early days of Tesla, when they were just beginning to play around with custom computing units for their relatively new crop of electric cars, they began to transition their cars from an analog computer to a digital one that promised to be more efficient, powerful and, of course, flexible. The upgrade played out without a hitch in the end, but, as with any major system change to a piece of hardware, vehicle or otherwise, there were some hiccups at first. One of those hiccups, as luck would have it, just happened to rear its head while Elon Musk was giving a test drive of one of Tesla's earliest models to Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
According to Musk, during an otherwise routine test of an otherwise normal Tesla vehicle, he invited the first two Googlers to hop in. When they did, however, something in the new computer system kicked in an unintentional safeguard of sorts. Thanks to a glitch of some kind, the car would only go about 10 miles per hour. Try as he might, Musk could not get the electric car to cooperate. He recalls telling the Google visionaries, "Look, I swear guys it goes way faster than this."
Despite the poor test drive, however, Google saw potential in Tesla, leading Brin and Page to take their place among the company's earliest investors. Naturally, their intuition was correct; Despite losing over $3.5 billion in value last year, Tesla is now worth over $30 billion, with shares going for about $218.36 as of this writing. To put that in perspective, Alphabet is worth $511.19 billion, with stocks going for $749.81 a pop. Considering the fact that Alphabet is currently the second most valuable company in the world, having only recently lost that crown to Apple, Tesla's high worth and share price are no small accomplishment. This just goes to show that iffy prototypes and unlucky early tests aren't always a sign of a bad company or a bad product, in the end.