No, it’s not Tesla. Fast Company’s Max Chafkin profiles the rise and fall of A Better Place, the brainchild of Shai Agassi, a narcissistic egomaniac who convinced the world that a new dawn was upon us in the automobile industry. But after thousands of press mentions and over a billion dollars raised, he only sold 1,500 cars before his company was sold for scraps:
Better Place was born to be revolutionary, the epitome of the kind of world-changing ambition that routinely gets celebrated. Founder Shai Agassi, a serial entrepreneur turned rising star at German software giant SAP, conceived Better Place “on a Davos afternoon” in 2005 when he asked himself, “How would you run a whole country without oil?” Four years later, onstage at the TED conference, Agassi, a proud Israeli with a bit of a Steve Jobs complex, wore a black turtleneck and promised, with the confidence of a man who has known the future for some time but has only recently decided to share his findings, that he would sell millions of electric vehicles in his home country and around the world. He implied that converting to electric cars was the moral equivalent of the abolition of human slavery and that it would usher in a new Industrial Revolution.