Shai Agassi Ousted From Better Place

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
shai agassi ousted from better place

Shai Aggasi, the visionary behind the Better Place EV battery swap network, has been ousted, with Better Place Australia’s CEO replacing Agassi as global CEO.

The news comes from Just-Auto, which carried Better Place’s official statement on the management change. Agassi will stay on as a board member and retain his stake in the company. Better Place has lost nearly $500 million since its foundation in 2007.

BetterPlace customer IsraellyCool has some interesting takes on the company from the perspective of an Israeli customer. While their product, customer service and lease deals are second to none, their marketing is apparently second rate.

TTAC has long followed the progress of Better Place, with Ed-Emeritus Niedermeyer being a particularly enthusiastic fan. But recent shifts in the world order have struck a blow against EVs, whether it’s the newly accessible supply of tight oil and natural gas or the abandonment of EVs by major OEMs like Toyota. Better Place isn’t yet ready for the grave, but in the five years since it was launched, the climate has changed significantly (no pun intended) and the change in management may precipitate deeper structural changes as well.

Join the conversation
6 of 17 comments
  • DC Bruce DC Bruce on Oct 03, 2012

    Another EV fanboi runs into reality. . . It seems to me equally likely that the energy density of a storage battery is going to be increased by a whole number factor (and that such a battery will not be destroyed by high amperage rapid charging) as it is that high-temperature ceramics will be used in internal combustion engines, making them dramatically more thermally efficient and therefore requiring dramatically less fuel for a given energy output. Since the infrastructure for fuel-based automotive propulsion is already in place, I would think investing in ceramic technology would be the better bet. And, I would add that wind and solar are -- and always will be -- marginal sources of electric power; and unless we are all willing to embrace nuclear power as the source of baseload power in the United States, all that EVs do is move the point of emissions from the vehicle to wherever the fuel-burning power plant is which is supplying the electricity to run them.

  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Oct 03, 2012

    "and unless we are all willing to embrace nuclear power as the source of baseload power in the United States, all that EVs do is move the point of emissions from the vehicle to wherever the fuel-burning power plant is which is supplying the electricity to run them" Tesla and Solar City may have solved this negative thought. They will be setting up solar powered charging stations that will feed electrical energy into our grid both while charging a car and while idle. If (yes it is a big IF) their idea works it would mean a driver could drive all over California and eventually all over the US and Canada on free energy. Sitting back and passing on assumptions and negative thoughts is easy, fortunately there are people who examine assumptions.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Oct 03, 2012

    It is very common for tech startups with venture funding to remove the founder of the company from the CEO role. These CEO's who are "visionaries" (read: technology geeks) may have some technical expertise, but that is rarely matched with business expertise. Since the board represents the guys with the cash, the board will eventually boot the founder (or park him or her into a less powerful role) and replace the visionary founder with a nuts-and-bolts business guy. Agassi has been around for awhile, so if anything, it's surprising that it didn't happen sooner. That being said, Better Place offers a rather awkward and inelegant solution to a question that nobody asked. EV innovation is going to require either considerable leaps in battery technology or else replacing the battery with some other method of power storage. Better Place is just a poor concept, which only proves that even bad ideas can attract capital.

    • See 1 previous
    • ClutchCarGo ClutchCarGo on Oct 04, 2012

      Whether you think that the Better Place model is awkward or inelegant, it is an attempt to answer an important question: How to address the range and recharge time issues for EVs in order to make them a viable alternative to ICEVs.

  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Oct 04, 2012

    The Mississippi River carries a lot of silt which is deposited when the river widens and enters the Gulf of Mexico. The river actually plugs itself and every 12,000 years or so the Mississippi takes a totally different route to the Gulf. We spend a great deal of tax money dredging and building dikes so the Mississippi will continue to flow past New Orleans. The finding, recovering, processing, moving, and burning of oil is a tremendous expensive complicated dirty mess that has many points where it can be plugged. You and I might be afraid to face the sources with oil and the oil companies but world leaders are very afraid. It is time to find a new path.