About TOTALED

How the world’s first electric car network ran out of juice on its way to make the world a Better Place

Global investors. Presidents and prime ministers. Groundbreaking technology. And a young entrepreneur with charisma, conviction and confidence to burn.

Before Tesla became the phenomenon it is today, Israel’s Better Place and its founder Shai Agassi were ready to take on Big Auto and Big Oil by building the world’s first affordable, all-electric car.

An international spy scandal, a Twitter war, an axle snapped from too much torque, wildly swinging oil prices, the Great Recession—car and company zoomed around these obstacles and many more, hyping up hopes and landing nearly a billion dollars in funding.

But less than five years after it launched, the company was bankrupt and out of business.

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.

Through the Better Place story, entrepreneurs and executives will learn practical lessons they can take back to their own businesses, no matter the size.

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What people are saying about TOTALED

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: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple and Had Fun Doing It and former ABC News tech correspondent

Part thrilling roller coaster, part slow-motion crash, Brian Blum’s TOTALED is a treasury of lessons for entrepreneurs, managers, and board members alike. Required reading for ambitious innovators everywhere.

— Ron Adner, author of The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See that Others Miss and Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

 

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

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

A world-changing vision, a charismatic and talented CEO, massive funding—what could go wrong? A lot, of course, and Brian Blum’s TOTALED describes in fascinating detail the players, the technology, and the missteps that ultimately brought the company down. This is a book with important lessons for startups of all kinds.
— Jeffrey S. Rosenschein, co-creator of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem entrepreneurship course; Sam and Will Strauss Professor of Computer Science

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

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

Brian Blum’s got the wheel, and you get to ride shotgun. 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, iWoz

Part thrilling roller coaster, part slow-motion crash, Brian Blum’s TOTALED is a treasury of lessons for entrepreneurs, managers, and board members alike. Required reading for ambitious innovators everywhere.

— Ron Adner, The Wide Lens

TOTALED tells an amazing true story that reads like fiction. Shai Agassi is an endlessly fascinating, larger-than-life figure. A vivid living history from the early days of today’s electric vehicle revolution.

— Jim Motavalli, High Voltage

The mystery of what really crashed electric car startup Better Place is finally unraveled. 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, Who Killed the Electric Car

Eloquent, sharp, insightful and entertaining, TOTALED 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, 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. A watershed event in the development of next-generation transportation.

— Jon Medved, OurCrowd

A story of unfettered ambition, unchecked hubris, bad luck and worse timing told with the 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, 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 had me glued to each page.
— Karin Kloosterman, Green Prophet

A world-changing vision, a charismatic and talented CEO, massive funding—what could go wrong? A lot, of course, and Brian Blum’s TOTALED describes in fascinating detail the players, the technology and the missteps that ultimately brought the company down.
— Jeffrey S. Rosenschein, Hebrew University

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, Cox Automotive

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