Totaled

Totaled : The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup That Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World

3.33 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

When a billion-dollar electric car startup crashed and burned, global investors and average car buyers alike asked: What happened? Business and technology journalist Brian Blum reveals the answer in his new book TOTALED: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil, and the World.
The Tesla 3 has grabbed the spotlight as the first “affordable” all-electric vehicle, but Israel’s Better Place came first. The plan was to use Israel — a country the size of New Jersey and dubbed “the Startup Nation” — to prove electric cars could work everywhere. Instead of fast charge, Better Place addressed range anxiety by building a network of battery-swap stations — operated by robots.
Better Place’s charismatic CEO Shai Agassi believed his company’s innovative technology could help stop climate change and free nations from the yoke of oil dependence. His magnetic television appearances, viral TED Talk and compelling boardroom presence had investors and business leaders worldwide jumping in to ride shotgun. Countries from Japan to Denmark to Australia signed on and the privately-held Better Place raised nearly a billion dollars.
Yet in a few years, it was all over — the company, buffeted by internal strife, an international corporate spy scandal, the Great Recession and technology disruptions, went bankrupt.
The story of the “electric car unicorn that collapsed” is a cautionary tale; a timely case study filled with valuable lessons for entrepreneurs, investors and executives in businesses of all sizes — as well as everyone chasing the electric car Holy Grail.
TOTALED lays out the story of what happens when change hits a company on multiple fronts, sometimes all at once. Do you double down and stay the course or pivot like your company’s life depends on it?
TOTALED plunges deep into the riveting rise and fall of a company that sincerely wanted to change the world but couldn’t quite get to the finish line. TOTALED will captivate you, whether you’re interested in electric cars and mobility, green energy and the environment; or you simply enjoy reading business biographies.
TOTALED has received rave advance reviews from people like David Pogue, the former New York Times tech writer, who says that “Brian Blum’s deeply researched account is like playing a car-wreck video in slow motion: You can watch every stroke of bad luck, bad timing, and bad blood reduce a once-thrilling idea to dust.”
Gina Smith, author of iWoz, the New York Times best-selling biography of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, writes that TOTALED grants access to “a side of the startup world that few ever get to see — much less survive.”
Ron Adner, author of The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See that Others Miss, describes TOTALED as “required reading for ambitious innovators.”
And Foreword Reviews writes that Better Place CEO Shai Agassi is “as compelling an antihero as found in any technology thriller. The book’s as-it-happens narrative makes for riveting reading
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Product details

  • Paperback | 358 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20mm | 526g
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0983042810
  • 9780983042815
  • 356,829

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Review quote

Brian Blum's deeply researched account is like playing a car-wreck video in slow motion: You can watch every stroke of bad luck, bad timing, and bad blood reduce a once-thrilling idea to dust. -- David Pogue, Yahoo Finance, former New York Times tech columnist

Brian Blum's got the wheel, and you get to ride shotgun. And you'd better hang on: this fast-paced, action-packed journey presents a side of the startup world that few ever get to see--much less survive. Blum's breezy style, muscular prose and impeccable research are a rare combination for any business book, but his eye for detail, character development and story are nothing short of genre bending. -- Gina Smith, author of iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon and former ABC News tech correspondent

TOTALED tells an amazing true story that reads like fiction. Shai Agassi is an endlessly fascinating, larger-than-life figure, and Brian Blum's TOTALED ferrets out every colorful detail. In the process, the book gives us vivid living history from the early days of today's electric vehicle revolution. -- Jim Motavalli, author of High Voltage and Forward Drive, columnist for Car Talk at NPR and longtime contributor to The New York Times

Brian Blum's TOTALED is a treasury of lessons for entrepreneurs, managers, and board members alike. Required reading for ambitious innovators everywhere. -- Dr. Ron Adner, author of The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See that Others Miss

The mystery of what really crashed electric car startup Better Place is finally unraveled. It's an account as fascinating as those that unfolded simultaneously at Fisker, Tesla and even GM. No one said getting into the 21st century would be a no-brainer--and with stories like this one, it's easy to see why it's already been such an epic ride. -- Chris Paine, director of Who Killed the Electric Car and Revenge of the Electric Car

Eloquent, sharp, insightful and entertaining, Brian Blum's autopsy of a lavishly financed venture's collapse is a must-read for inventors, investors, economists and anyone curious about the Israeli start-up scene's culture of adventure, inspiration and risk. -- Amotz Asa-El, commentator, Dow Jones MarketWatch

There are deep lessons to be learned from this consummate insider who writes more like an author of detective thrillers than business books. -- Jon Medved, venture capitalist and CEO, OurCrowd

Brian Blum tells a story of unfettered ambition, unchecked hubris, bad luck and worse timing with the skill and dexterity of a professional driver on a rainy course. TOTALED takes us on the wild ride that is the spectacular rise and fall of the most audacious startup of the last decade. -- Chris Shipley, executive producer, DEMO conference

Brian Blum documents this remarkable meltdown from transformative beginning to sputtering end. Without his voice, the Better Place story might have remained untold. TOTALED is a riveting narrative that had me glued to each page -- Karin Kloosterman, founder, Green Prophet

Using his deep reporting and research skills, Brian Blum brilliantly chronicles the fascinating story of this pioneering company. He makes us understand how difficult disruption is. If you love cars and are interested in change, you will be captivated reading this book. -- Sandy Schwartz, president, Cox Automotive

Better Place CEO Shai Agassi is `as compelling an antihero as found in any technology thriller. The book's as-it-happens narrative makes for riveting reading.` -- Barry Silverstein, Foreword Reviews
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