Chutzpah Destroyed Agassi’s Better Place

63nd IAA - International Motor Show

Shai Agassi thought he was going to transform the world by 2020 with electric vehicles. In fact, his company went belly up way before then. Daniel Wesley of Entrepreneur takes a look at what was the cause of the failure of Better Place.

If Wesley’s analysis could be summed up in one word, it is “chutzpah.” One employee said, “Everything we needed to go right went wrong, ” but that wasn’t mere happenstance. The company suffered from its extravagant promises, underdelivery, mismanagement and complacency. And it didn’t help that founder of the Israeli company, Shai Agassi declared, “If we go down, we’ll make a noise.” Well that noise might have been a mere honk.

First, the company did not understand its customers. It started in the Israeli market where people don’t want to be bothered hanging around charging stations chatting with their lattes. Agassi made huge declarations about deliveries that never occurred. While it had support from Shimon Peres, it didn’t have sufficient government backing to get moving. While Better Place raised plenty of capital, it got complacent and stopped innovating.

In business as in life, unbridled chutzpah can destroy a better place.

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