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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shai Agassi’

Even Without Shai Agassi, Better Place Offers a Great Deal

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

On Monday, electric car company Better Place announced that Shai Agassi, up to now the face and driving force behind Better Place, was stepping back from his CEO rôle and would continue on as a member of the board and major shareholder. Evan Thornley, Better Place’s CEO in Australia, is stepping up to the global rôle. The news seemed to come out of the blue. The company’s press release about this is here.

I don’t know a lot yet about Evan Thornley, but I will find out more. He certainly pushed Better Place on quite a bit in Australia and, while Renault seems to be a slightly reluctant partner in Europe today, Evan has brought GM Holden on board in Australia and that may turn out to be brilliant.

Timing

If I have a complaint it is about the local timing of this announcement. Just last week Better Place and the local leasing company Albar announced an amazing deal they would be selling at a car show in Tel Aviv this week. They’re offering a 3-year lease for ₪9,990 down and ₪1,990 per month which includes driving 1000 km. Fuel alone for that distance is ₪900 or more. I have personally put two people in touch with Better Place who are close to taking this. I have 3 or 4 more very interested. I’ve had calls or messages from all who are asking if the company will be around to service the lease.

I can’t answer that question. Obviously I need them to continue operating or my car is useless. It’s my belief now, as it was when I bought my car, if Better Place were to fail completely, someone would pick up the local assets at a discount price and continue to run the service. Too much has been spent for it to be written off completely.

As I’ve written so glowingly I think Better Place are doing many things correctly: the product,the pricethe service are all excellent.

Local Advertising

I’m going to make one strategic criticism though. The marketing in Israel has been disappointing. When the New York Times writes “But despite vast publicity, the idea has gained little traction so far.” they’re confusing two different things. Being featured in the Startup Nation book and talked about in global business publications doesn’t affect the Israeli domestic market for cars (or that in Denmark I suspect). Sure it gets a few headlines but the Israeli press has been overwhelmingly skeptical from the start.

I could be very cynical and point out that as car advertising (by internal combustion engine car importers of course) is something like 50% of all media buy in Israel, perhaps the newspapers were just protecting their biggest customers.

But the reality is Better Place has not told a competent story to Israelis. They haven’t advertised in English, Russian or Arabic just for starters. And their advertising in Hebrew has not been enough. There is only one sales centre in Israel: Tel Aviv. There should be one in Jerusalem and Haifa at a minimum. I can’t link to an English version of the lease offer because their web page is in Hebrew only, here’s a brief article in Globes about it. And the terms of the lease are an image so Google won’t even translate it for you.

I know personally how huge this education gap is because of the questions I get asked every time I drive or park my car. Very few people have any idea about the car or actively believe lies and misinformation spread in the press here for 3 years now.

There has been no coherent promotion of just how nice the car is to drive. No promotion of how easy it is to switch or how the home charging works. Of course having only one model hurts them, but as it is  the most popular style of car in the country, not by much.

Shai Agassi and Investment

As to Shai, it is completely normal for a founder of something like this to move or be moved aside when a company transitions into more of an operational stance than a start up. I have met him but I wouldn’t say I know him and I’m not going to give some uninformed speculation about what led to this.

Secrets of Israeli Success Revealed in New Documentary

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

A new feature-length documentary starring one of Harvard University’s all-time most popular professors reveals the secret components of Israel’s success as an international leader in innovation and humanitarianism.

Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference stars Tal Ben-Shahar, former Harvard University professor of Positive Psychology, who left his post as the lecturer of the formidable institution’s most popular course to return to Israel with his family.  In the film, produced by JerusalemOnlineU.com, Ben-Shahar breaks down and analyzes the five unique characteristics he says have combined to give Israel its unusually high level of national actualization.

Though Israel is populated by just over 7 million people, it is the third highest represented nation on the New York Stock Exchange, and is considered a world leader in science and technology advancement.  Through the course of the film, Ben-Shahar takes the viewer on a journey to discover what unique mix of factors or “actualizers” have contributed to this fact, and to the success of Israel as a nation of innovation.

“None of these actualizers are in and of themselves unique to Israel,” Ben-Shahar says. “But in combination, they are bringing about an almost unparalleled progress and success and contribution to the world.”  The factors explored in the film are family, turning adversity into advantage, “chutzpah”, education, taking action, and the Jewish drive to do “tikkun olam” – repairing the world.

“What we need to communicate about Israel is that it goes far, far beyond ‘the conflict’, Ben-Shahar told Jewish Press’ Yishai Fleisher.  “Yes, we’re in the midst of a conflict, and at the same time we’re also a thriving nation, we’re able to do wonderful, amazing things for ourselves as well as for the world.  Our contribution to other nations, to our global village, is disproportionate to our size, and especially commendable given our geopolitical situation.”

The film features numerous projects related to giving, development, and increasing quality of life for Jews and non-Jews in Israel and around the world in the areas of science, environment, medicine, and technology, and includes interviews with Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO of electric vehicle service provider Better Place, Naty Barak, CEO and Head of Sustainable Development at micro-irrigation solutions company Netafim Industries, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, Tamar Jehuda-Cohen, Founder and CTO of Smart Biotech, historian Sir Martin Gilbert, Birthright founder Michael Steinhardt, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and others.

JerusalemOnlineU.com is an online portal for Jewish distance learning offering courses in the basics of Judaism, Israeli history, Positive Psychology, Cinema, and Jewish concepts.

Since leaving Harvard, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herziliya. He is the author of international best sellers Happier and Being Happy, which have been translated into 25 languauges.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/secrets-of-israeli-success-revealed-in-new-documentary/2012/04/01/

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