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BRINGING INNOVATION TO MARKET

Tesla Motors Goes Public

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In about an hour, Elon Musk will ring the NASDAQ bell in Times Square to celebrate a historic IPO. His company, Tesla Motors, is the first American car company to go public in 54 years. (The last car company to IPO? Ford.)

Tesla, as regular Inc. readers know, is the upstart electric car company that has managed to create a sporty electric two-seater, the Roadster, that can beat a Ferrari off the line. I wrote about Tesla and its CEO Musk, who also runs a rocket company called SpaceX, in a December 2007 profile in which we named him Entrepreneur of the Year. Back then, just having a prototype electric car seemed impressive.

Two and a half years later, Tesla has sold more than 1,000 Roadsters and is poised to start development of a mass market electric sedan, the Model S.

The AP has all the vitals on the IPO; the SEC filing is here; and, if you really want to feel like a banker, the roadshow deck is here. In summary, Tesla hopes to raise $211 million by selling 13.3 million shares for $14 to $16 a share. Yesterday, the company raised the total number of shares it would be issuing--generally seen as a sign that demand from investors is strong.

As many have pointed out, Tesla has yet to turn a profit, so it's possible that the company might still flame out. However, whatever happens with the stock price, this is a big moment for the U.S. auto industry, which was cratering just a year ago, and a big moment for the IPOs, which had dried up almost completely in the wake of the financial crisis. I'm heading up to Times Square right now for the bell-ringing--and I'll post some more thoughts once the markets close.

UPDATE: It was a good day for Tesla. The share price was up more than 40 percent on the day.

(Meanwhile, thanks for reading this inaugural blog post! Let me know what you think about Tesla in the comments below, or feel free to email me at mchafkin at inc dot com--about Tesla or anything else about innovation.)




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